The Motet is notorious for shuffling through band members and collaborators. The group’s founder and primary songwriter, Dave Watts, has even drummed for the Everyone Orchestra. But despite his penchant for variety, Watts recently closed the Motet’s revolving door and has maintained the group’s lineup for more than a year. The result is Instrumental Dissent, the group’s most focused record to date.
Based in Boulder, Colo., drummer Dave Watts, percussionist Scott Messersmith, guitarist Ryan Jalbert, bassist Garrett Sayers, keyboardist Adam Revell and saxophonist Dominic Lalli have made a record that dabbles in everything from Afro-beat and jazz to funk and electronica. The album’s opening track, “Afro Disco Beat,” is just that, a percussive dance groove that smoothly veers into a bass-heavy house beat. “Anew” is a surprisingly enjoyable foray into electronica, complete with bouncy bass line, hypnotic keyboards and vocal samples from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Wole Soyinka.
Watt’s drumming is crisp but his songwriting is often less so. A few grooves start strong, including “Afrotech” and “What Have We Done?” but despite their ambitious progressions into house and dance music, fail to remain interesting. Yet overall the album grooves hard, showcases the Motet’s chops and is a positive testament to what consistency can bring.