In the heat of the global pandemic, master bassist and music theorist Aaron “Dubl A” Seener from Long Island NY and Saxophonist Dale “Dirty D” Pearson from San Diego CA found themselves unable to perform on stage due to the restrictions, but instead of becoming frustrated, the exact opposite happened. These two gentlemen decided to come up with the project (and genre) called JUNK, which mixes elements of both Jazz and Funk in a blend that’s somehow similar to Aziz Maraka‘s famous fusion of rock and jazz that he used to call Razz in the past. What draws this new project apart from the Jordanian mastermind though, as well as other similar endeavors, is the sophistication and the amount of music theory implemented into it.
The first track is the title track of the album and it unapologetically throws every element into your face that you begin to feel immersed without taking a chance to be surprised by it. The sax and bass are our main characters but the drums and distorted guitar are also present in a way that kept me hooked for the entire duration of the track – there was no dull moment. The Sax vs Bass battle moment in the middle of the track is a great example of that, as there was no chance for a proper solo or a certain character to outshine the other. After that section, they put on a very unique angry-sounding sax part with punk-ish headbanging vibes. At that section I found myself smiling ear to ear with joy and musical elation while banging my head which, while paradoxical as it sounds, proves that the marriage of genres these guys made is a success. The irregular structure of the track that can’t be defined as verse chorus verse makes it all the more eye-opening, and some strings and piano make the ending calmer and more somber than the sections before it.
The second track, None Other Than Dirty D, has cooler and more The radio announcer/DJ voice that presents “none other than Dirty D” paves the way for D with his sax solo over the funky basslines and the impressive guitar picking techniques, which despite being in the background have a lot of detail and complexity to them. The percussion here is soft and sweet and makes you sway and dance to the rhythm. One thing I noticed after multiple listens (to digest the whole composition) was how the keyboard lines are equally complex and well-written.
The third track, Chill Pill, is not any less groovy than expected. Everyone loves it when the bass plays main lines like this, but what you will love even more here are the sax refrains which made me feel like the bass is starting and conversation while the sax is replying to it. It’s so brilliant and emotive at the same time. That conversation acts as a verse, while an amazing piano hook/chorus recurs twice. It’s then followed by the solos section where both the bass and the sax make equally sexy and dance-worthy phrases that will be implanted in your brain from their catchiness and bizarre nature. Blow is the track that felt like a contender to become a mainstream hit. It’s a “bop” in every sense of the word, dancy phrases and groovy bass lines feel like 90s RHCP meets Ska-punk meets pop-punk. For every influence implemented here, there is an equal sense of fun and enjoyment that you stop thinking about the notes, scales, and the way this was written and you find yourself immersed and forced to enjoy the vibes.
The fifth and final track, Frogadelic, uses actual frog ribbiting samples that the main melody imitates. It’s like a Jazz ensemble featuring a capable vocalist in the form of a frog on lead vocals. The piano and bass leave no part without filling it with additional details and lines and as usual, this project is refusing to give us boring or unmemorable moments.
All in all, it’s rare for me to find records where every track forces itself into my memory the way “Chromatose ” did. It’s especially worth mentioning that this is only the debut of this project, but I’m not afraid to say that the results are greater than the sum of their parts. This is a record that’s almost impossible to forget from how musically tight, eccentric, and extremely catchy every track is.