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Mars Is A Very Bad Place For Love

by The Breathing Effect

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about

Jazz is supposedly a grown folks’ genre, played by aging bohemians in tiny clubs. Tell that to the Breathing Effect—a self-described electronic group influenced by soul, rock and jazz—whose debut album, Mars Is a Very Bad Place for Love, toes a line between traditional and turn up. As a unit, producer/keyboardist Eli Goss and drummer/bassist Harry Terrell merge the standards of conventional jazz with modern bounce beats. By definition, it scans as "jazz fusion," but the results conjure '70s R&B as well as the contemporary Los Angeles beat scene and hip-hop. Clearly, Goss and Terrell study Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine, but it seems they dig Thundercat and Stevie Wonder, too.

The genesis of the Breathing Effect can be traced to its fascinating 2014 EP, on which Goss and Terrell spread aquatic rhythms over five tracks. From "Layers of Thought" to "Losing My Mind", the resulting mixture was equally soothing and mesmerizing; the EP as a whole worked just as well under clear or gray skies. Mars is more upbeat than its predecessor, though the opening tunes—"Forestial Things" and "Cloudy Afternoon"—continue the EP’s mellow ambience. Yet by the third song, the two-tiered "Cold Meteor Showers", Goss and Terrell hit a stride.

In a way, Mars plays like musical theater: It’s driven by space travel, and follows the story of two lovers cruising the galaxy with no concept of time. Tracks like "One for the Mountains By the Sea" and "Twenty Years Altogether" recall spacious isolation, of couples escaping life’s hustle to be alone with each other. It’s a notion evoked on album standout, "Weightless Reality", where Goss, Terrell and guest vocalist Kalia Vandever sing of a fantasy world of waterfalls and underwater utopia. Whether or not they’re depicting planet Mars is anyone’s guess. Still, the music conveys a very real narrative while using few words, which is usually a tough task for most instrumental albums.

The vocals, sparing as they are, come from Goss, Terrell, Vandever and Michael Mayo, who tend to float along the periphery of the music, underlining the instrumentals. On "Streetlights Out of Focus", Mayo drifts softly, his wails a breezy compliment to Goss and Terrell’s composition. And of all the great things happening here—the Isley Brothers vibe on "Fireflies", the dense layers of "Visions"—you can actually feel the melodies, which remain at the forefront even though the music drifts in all directions. The blend seeps into the background if you let it, but dominates your attention in headphones, played loudly. "Rising Inside"—the LP’s best song and one of the group’s finest to date—uses swift percussion, bright synths and a Vocoder, working up a loud bounce that would fit comfortably within rap circles and jazz crowds, two sects that couldn’t be farther apart these days. It’s a grand culmination for the Breathing Effect: experimental jazz with the potential for huge resonance.

-Marcus J Moore, pitchfork.com

credits

released April 21, 2015

Eli Goss – Piano (1), Keyboards (3, 5, 7, 10, 11), Synthesizers (2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10), Vocals (4, 8) Guitar (4, 5, 6, 8)

Harry Terrell – Drums and Percussion (2-11), Bass (2-11), Vocals (8, 9), Guitar (8)

Moki Kawaguchi – Keyboards (2, 4, 9), Synthesizer/Vocoder (10)

Kalia Vandever – Trombone (2, 9), Vocals (8)

Michael Mayo – Vocals (7)

Written, Recorded, and Produced by The Breathing Effect
Mixed by The Breathing Effect and Daddy Kev
Executive Produced and Mastered by Daddy Kev
Artwork by Mariano Peccinetti

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The Breathing Effect Los Angeles, California

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Track Name: Visions
Shake the dust out of your head
It’s quiet now, and we can hear ourselves
Oh what do we have to do today? What do we have to do?
Think about the things we couldn’t live without

If I empty out my mind, will I leave my soul behind?
All that I see comes from inside me
Breathe into the flame
And watch it grow to what you can’t contain
The graceful chaos, chaos
Sleeping in the rain
The battle to survive drives you insane
And as we drift off
Visions release you

Let me paint in the sunlight
We’re awake now; can we go outside?
Will I ever finish what I make?
Can I ever love what I create?
Maybe not this year
Maybe not this life

Breathe into the flame
And watch it grow to what you can’t contain
The graceful chaos, chaos
Sleeping in the rain
The battle to survive drives you insane
And as you drift off
Visions release you
Track Name: Weightless Reality
Waterfalls
As I am floating underneath
Being kept alive
This science shows me many things
I could never dream
Underwater paradise
This world I know
Is full of life

Swim with me
In this weightless reality
We’ll drink green tea
Eat lemon cakes with poppy seeds
It’s so serene
Enchanted by a pleasant gleam
This world I know
Is just a dream
Track Name: Fireflies
In your mind, what do you see?
In your eyes, I see pools of reflection
Though you’re kind, I feel disdain I recognize
But do I see just fireflies?

Luminescent creature
My thoughts are in the sky
Effervescent dreamer
Why do I even try
To understand fireflies?

The embers of your life they burn so brightly
I look deep inside, down into your precious soul
Your desire fills me with drive to carry on
But how long will you burn alive?

Luminescent creature
My thoughts are in the sky
Overbearing wisher
Why do I even try
To understand fireflies?