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From The Very Depths
© 2006 Edward Leonard

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Deep City Elm
From The Very Depths

Total Time: 49:18
Cost: $ 9.98 +s/h*

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STYLE: Freeform Funk / Jazz / Rock

HOME TOWN: New Haven, CT

1. Lost For Words
2. Walk On Mars
3. Dinosaurs
4. It's Not Alright
5. Dreamland
6. Tick-Tock
7. Percussion Discussion
8. Curses
9. I Don't Get It
10. Leftright
11. I Still Don't Get It

Visit Deep City Elm's  MySpace page

Deep City Elm

Issue #90                                              Oct. '06

I recently completed a journey. A journey that took 30 years, yet one I thought would never have a true conclusion. After 30 years of travel through about 60 years of music, I finally arrived at my destination – My #1 Album of All-Time. Yes, this was a long winding road, and while my finish line was clearly defined, I never realized when or how I would get there. Imagine my surprise when about mid-August I suddenly found that I had attained what I thought would almost practically never be, yes the journey was over. All the years, all the lists, all the twists, turns, curves, forks and speed bumps that needed to be navigated, all the lead changes and uncertain directions had finally paid off. I can now clearly and certainly state that for me, the #1 Album of All-Time is: The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys by Traffic.

And while every individual who travels this same (no two ever alike) road, reaches a different destination based on their own particular travel itinerary, some only stay awhile and then decide to take up the trail again…

From The Very Depths by Deep City Elm is The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys incarnate. Now, I’m not saying it resides along side of Low Spark on my shelf - yet. I’m saying listening to From The Very Depths brings forth every thing that is good about this style music. What style of music? That freeform jazz, funk rock that Steve Winwood and Traffic threw down so well; a beatnik style percussion section that also mirrors the tribal beat as the rhythm section, with a sweet, soulful, sax dancing in the margins and taking the lead when expected and even when unexpected. Electric and acoustic guitars guide the arrangements through many territories, while distinct vocals lend a personalized flair.

From The Very Depths opens with Lost For Words and immediately establishes the drums, rhythm, and horn. There’s a dirty fuzz tone guitar slicing underneath as front man Ed Leonard wraps his tongue and face around the words, creating much more meaning by giving certain personifications to the cadence, syllables, and rhythmic pronunciations. Ed’s wife Alison adds her angelic harmonizing for some spiritual level chanting that has this song setting the tone for one fine groove of a ride.

That ride continues with Walk On Mars - Float away in ecstasy as the sax cries out and the slammin’ chord progressions direct us towards an otherworldly experience, a scenic, poetic tribute to the power of love – “with you beside me / I can do anything.” That just about says it all, and that’s something we find time and time again within this finely structured album. Deep City Elm says more with less words, they allow the music compositions to drive the vehicle. The words may steer you in the right direction, but the music provides the propulsion.

Dinosaurs hints at DCE’s admiration for the Cream/Blind Faith style of power-psychedelica but pumps it out in a grand Synchronicity era Police fusion attack before pulling back and leading into It’s Not Alright. Another less-is-more poetic reading to a funky funk beat. The vocal inflection of Ed Leonard sets the course. Using a spoken singing beatnik quality to pick up the song and shove it down our throats along with a huge helping of the free style Jazz horn of Lawrence “LP” Patton sliding in, out, and around.  Rick Landino’s electric guitar and effects dance about as Jason Smith’s bass slinks and slams where needed, while Chadwick Gregory’s stick work subtly thrusts everything around to where it needs to be.

The two-part mini-opus that is sandwiched in the middle of this album brings yet another unique perspective. Dreamland starts with a ticking clock, and as it rolls out a carpet of sound, we hear the unmistakable deep breathing of someone slumbering. Here, Leonard plays the sandman as the accompanying instruments slowly dance and slip-slide away. Beckoning, solemn, tribal drums give the appropriate feel for “laying down your weary bones.” “Almost in dreamland,” puts us inside the person’s semi-conscious, the point just before dreams, and even death (represented here by some impromptu tribal chanting). We can feel the open space as conscious slips away and the semi-conscious state becomes ethereal on a sub-conscious level. And, it is at this level that DCE works a bit of artistic magic with an upfront segue into Tick-Tock, by allowing the ticking clock to come back in, with the alarm ringing to jar us out of Dreamland and force us to “rush off to work.” Tick-Tock is a bass driven, tantalizing, damnation of society for placing specific instructions on time – “Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock / everybody keep in step!” Dig the clean, lean, mean sax here, as well as the wanking guitar and excellent stick work once again.

Then, From The Very Depths turns into Moonflower by Santana. The instrumental tracks; Percussion Discussion, Curses, and the album closer I Still Don’t Get It, were all recorded live at the 2006 Meriden Daffodil Festival (Meriden, CT) by James Campbell. James was responsible for the 300 Mondays documentary that profiled Ed Leonard’s Beatnik 2000 series held every Monday night at Café 9 in New Haven, CT. Here he captures Deep City Elm laying down their Soul Sacrifice at the Alter of Carlos Santana and his sensational rhythm sections of the mid 70’s. Add in a little Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass reference (on Curses) and we’re sipping Martinis and getting laid, “Ba dada da, Ba dada da…

Finally, it’s I Don’t Get It and Leftright that drive the artistic integrity deep into our brains with two thought provoking statements on the current condition of mankind. First, I Don’t Get It presents a remarkable/incredible protest to the materialistic lifestyles that have been helping to destroy our societies, not only habitually, but mentally as well –

When I want it / I don’t got it /
When I got it / I don’t want it /
And when I feel it / I can’t touch it /
When I touch it / I just don’t feel it /
Well I had it / Then I lost it /
And then I found it / and then I lost it again

All recited over a jammin’, up-tempo, driving rhythm with sweet sax over the top and exposing “It” as the greed/wealth/materialistic –ness of man and the cause of questioning one’s own mental sanity to the thought of our being/existence.

This drops us on the doorstep of Leftright. A Performance Art piece, a lament through the ages “I’m crawling / I’m walking / I’m running / I’m jumping / I’m flying / I’m falling.” It calls out every political/religious group that establishes a stand, no matter how pure or extreme it may be. It presents humanity as the part of nature that doesn’t get nature, and fails to realize that mankind will bring about its own demise. Open your heart and mind to peace and love – “I found the light / Lost in the darkness.”

I found the light in the art of music. Music represents the peace and love of the world. Whenever you are lost in the darkness, music can be your light on the journey. Who knows, maybe From The Very Depths by Deep City Elm could be the first road on that journey, a journey that might conclude 30 years from now…

From The Very Depths by Deep City Elm
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$ 9.98 +s/h*  

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