PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Incognito: Bees+Things+Flowers

Bees+Things+Flowers evokes the invincible summer in listeners, irrespective of equatorial vantage point.


Incognito

Bees+Things+Flowers

Label: EMI
US Release Date: 2006-12-26
UK Release Date: 2006-10-02
Amazon
iTunes

"Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world", so Ada Louise Huxtable is quoted on the floral-designed inlay of Bees+Things+Flowers. Released a day after Christmas on EMI's Narada Jazz label in the U.S., the latest album by Incognito is a jolt of Vitamin D for the seasonally grey northern hemisphere. It's an album that breezily transports listeners to Incognito's world of Bahamian breezes and honeysuckle.

Under the tutelage of Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick, Incognito is the most successful contemporary band to have bridged jazz and soul. On this ode to summer, Bluey -- who produced the album -- utilizes a cadre of different vocalists and eschews smooth-jazz in favor of earthy musical arrangements that sway like a field of wildflowers. The track list is as varied: new songs, borrowed songs, and re-conceived arrangements of Incognito classics. Songs like "Always There", "Deep Waters", and "Still a Friend of Mine", long beloved by fans, are stripped to their acoustic DNA and radiate the glow of new life on Bees+Things+Flowers.

Track one, Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves the Sunshine", sets the mood for the entire album. The mantra-like lyrics emit a poppy perfume that hook the listener and become a state of mind. The soulful and sensual voice of Joy Rose is the perfect conduit to conjure images of folks "getting down" in the sunshine. (The album's title, by the way, is lifted from this song.)

What follows is a cool dose of acoustic soul on a pair of re-arranged Incognito club hits. Imaani's voice blooms like a flower within the sparse but fragrant musical arrangement on "Everyday". The less-is-more element of percussion by Karl Vandenbosche exemplifies the song's deceptively simple uptempo to downtempo re-design. "Always There", the emotional center of the album, is one of the album's strongest tracks. "Such a good feeling/ That's where I want to be/ Locked in your prison/ Of total ecstasy" cries Joceyln Brown. That the song succeeds when laid bare with acoustic guitar, strings, and Brown's evocative vocal performance is a testament to Bluey's intuitive vision of how to make the familiar new.

Nestled between these two songs is a creative interpretation of the Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer in the City". Simon Hale's exquisite string arrangements have personality to spare during the song's introduction. Whereas street sounds served the original 1966 hit, the strings create palpable dissonance and tension, like cracks in the pavement. A dreamy remake of "Tin Man" by America also succeeds with Incognito's stellar musicians, most notably Dominic Glover on flügelhorn.

The only misstep of the cover songs -– and of the whole album -- is a nine-minute version of Earth, Wind & Fire's "That's the Way of the World". Some masterpieces cannot be improved, much less lengthened, and this remake only prompts the listener to seek the original. It's also the album's closing statement. A less audacious choice to bookend the album would have been "You Are Golden", one of a few excellent new songs composed by Bluey for Bees+Things+Flowers. Vocalist Tony Momrelle infuses the lyrics "When my mind's ablaze and life a maze, you see me through" with a gentle earnestness that could be about the tenderness shared between lovers or even the inspiring power of the sun.

To paraphrase Albert Camus, Bees+Things+Flowers evokes the invincible summer in listeners, irrespective of equatorial vantage point. Whether the early morning light shed by "Still a Friend of Mine", the noontime sunniness of "Raise", or the midnight mood on "Crave", the members of Incognito effectively use music to capture the subtleties that shape quotidian life. All's right in Incognito's world.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.