This curious collective includes saxophonists Kamasi Washington and Kasey Knudsen, trumpeter Erik Jekabson, organist Mike Blankenship, guitarist Ross Howe, drummer Mike Hughes, and songwriters Matt Montgomery and Gregory Howe, the group expressing the latter pair’s compositions. Formed about a decade ago, Throttle Elevator Music (TEM) has six previous releases to its credit; according to its members, Final Floor will be the group’s aptly titled swan song. The album, recorded between 2013 and 2020, runs an oddball gamut, taking in ’80s instrumental dance-pop, atmospheric production that recalls Ennio Morricone’s The Mission or Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way, and the eighth-note urgency of the Clash, buffeted by plenty of wide-open improvisation. Without a predetermined “bag” or style, TEM is free to roam as the spirit moves. Their music is not always cohesive, but it’s certainly interesting.
Enter at any point and float away, or begin with opener “Supraliminal Space,” which recalls Pink Floyd performing at Pompeii. Gaseous noises and spewing sounds slowly give way to rub-a-dub rhythms, beeping guitar, and sideways, sleepwalking horns. “Daggerboard” rides a comfy cloud of twinkling keyboard, a horizon-bending horn(s) melody morphing into a pulsing rock groove worthy of early Genesis, topped by a winding Washington solo. “Recirculate” resembles some menacing dystopian soundtrack; “Heart of Hearing” is like Talking Heads by way of Jon Hassell; “Standards Reproached” could have been put out by bassist Bill Laswell’s Axiom label; “Fast Remorse” is an homage to surf punk.
Once the album’s completed, you’re left with a pleasant ooze, a sweet balm of bliss and heavy eyelids. Music for late-night listening and doodling daydreamers.