The beauty of The City Music Project’s (TCMP) debut album, Visual-Audio, lies in its perfect balance of style. With the courage to experiment with an eclectic cocktail of percussion loops and sound effects and a sharp enough ear to let only the best into the party, DJ Golden Spiral seasons what might have been a sound a bit too strong for listeners. With a commanding voice and the lyrics to make it worth paying attention to, Frank Cervantes reigns in what might otherwise become a tornado touching down on a lab of sound effects and samples. Together, the pair calibrates the scale to weigh in a variety of tight instruments like saxophone and guitar.
The whole thing swims through a smattering of genres, coming off as everything from a worthy imitation of a Peter Gabriel work on “Struggle In The Streets” to a sweet mix of jazzy synthesizer and bluesy electric guitar, with introspective lyrics to tie everything together on “Oh God.” And just when you think you’ve heard everything, the duo pulls out a hypnotic cycle of a piece that could make you swear you’re sitting in the midst of a street fair of snake charmers and belly dancers on “Automation Love Circuit.”
The group claims to fuse bits of everything from dub to Latin, and such a blend might have yielded a nausea-inducing meal suffering from a bit too many different tastes. But the whole album is pulled off flawlessly, and TCMP holds your hand with a grin to guide you through all of the different soundscapes they have carefully painted.
Regardless of whether or not you enjoy the particular genre they’re playing with, you have to admire the tweaks they turned on each, at once paying homage to and enhancing each. Feelings range from a thrilling joie de vivre to an at once glad and dejected nostalgia to comprise an album that offers a soundtrack to wherever you are, or inspiration to whatever’s in your own head. It will stretch what you thought was possible to come out of your speakers.