La Brea – s/t

La Brea

La Brea is a Philadelphia based 10-piece instrumental group manned at the helm by J.P. Singletary. Singletary, the composer who plays guitar and other instruments, was joined in the studio by a host of local jazz and classical musicians contributing keys, horns, strings, and even a bit of didgeridoo.

The eight song, self-titled disc begins with a fairly short, classical piece titled “Tarred and Feathered”. It’s quite minimalist and makes it hard to tell what direction La Brea will go in from here. “Magnet Pulls North” is much more lush, but still moderately subdued. This is where you begin to get a cinematic feel. It’s easy to imagine this song as a backdrop to a beautiful scene in a movie or as your own personal soundtrack to a day spent lying on your back in a park watching the clouds go by.

La Brea begins to bring much more depth and texture to “Incubation” – this is the first place on the album that you really get the sense of multiple musicians at work instead of just one or two. “Reign of the Idiot God” – a twelve minute twelve second epic – takes the group in a much different direction. This time the song evolves into something very technical with a much harder sound. It’s not quite metal, not quite math rock, but it definitely has an edge and the drums and guitar take center stage.

The second longest track on La Brea is the mini-epic “Fell Into the Sun” – ‘mini’ because it clocks in at about minutes shorter than “Reign of the Idiot God”. This song returns to the more cinematic quality of its predecessors. The strings glide this piece along to about the six minute mark where La Brea plugs in some samples and electronic fuzz. A somewhat longer – and different – “Tarred and Feathered” brings the album full circle.

La Brea’s first release is extremely solid for such a young group. Although it would be interesting to see the group expand on some of the ideas here – the more technical stuff especially – this album is absolutely worth seeking out.