Space Odyssey: The Breathing Effect’s Maniacal Debut

The Breathing Effect take jazz to cold, extraterrestrial terrains.
By    May 5, 2015


Willie Schube has 3rd Rock From The Sun on Blu-Ray.

The best stuff doesn’t need an origin story. There’s no need for a drastic PR push; the music isn’t secondary to any of the pre-release clutter and myth-building. Harry Terrell and Eli Goss, who record under the name The Breathing Effect, speak to this notion. Maybe the album title—Mars Is A Very Bad Place For Love—is more than a name. Perhaps it alludes to the untenable nature of a hostile and foreign environment, one unwilling to host all the particles of crap spewing around our atmosphere. Mars Is A Very Bad Place For Love feels and sounds like it’s vacuumed, hermetically sealed. The duo’s label, Alpha Pup, suggests a middle ground between Flying Lotus and Soft Machine. I hear something more between Teebs and ’70s fusion (a little bit of ’60s psych in there for fun, too). Thundercat’s not a bad reference point either, if his balls-to-the-wall bass playing were substituted for Terrell’s equally insane drum style. Cymbals color this entire world, but the wash and chunk never take away from structure or melody.

Mars works because the songs are presented with equal doses of maniacal terror and outlandish beauty. Opener “Forestial Things” is nothing more than jazz piano riffing (god bless two people under 25 for making interesting jazz music!). It gives way to “Cloudy Afternoon,” a track that sounds like Dam-Funk time traveling to the days of Roy Ayers. Nothing’s supposed to sound that cool. “Visions” is sprawling, as Goss shows off his delicate, sometimes timid vocals. The drums sound like something Fly Lo would work with if Fly Lo was more concerned with consistency than showing off.

“Streetlights Out of Focus” is perhaps the album’s strongest moment, revealing the duo’s influences without ripping them off. This seems to be what sets the duo apart from other young groups: The ability to balance your influences with something new and fresh. The Breathing Effect is doing that about as well as anyone else out there today. So here’s a debut by two young dudes that’s remarkably assured and unafraid and just really, really good. Sometimes that’s more than enough.

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