World beat, reggae, West African and psychedelic are just some of the styles Big Blue World showcases on their third album release Agitate d’Love. Consisting of Connor O’ Brien on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars and melodica, Christ Chitouras on guitars and vocals, Keith Kirkpatrick on bass, stick and vocals and Frank Laurino on drums and percussion, these seasoned veterans with big name experience under their belts pull together many influences into their sound: Paul Simon, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel, Buena Vista Social Club, Grateful Dead and King Crimson just to name a few.
The album was recorded over one weekend in 2016 and the band set up inside one room and all played together live, as if they were playing at a live gig. This distinction can really be heard well on many of their songs. They also recorded most of the songs in one or two takes, which keeps a fresh energy alive throughout the recording. The main theme on the album centers on the power of love and its healing abilities.
“Pictures of Pluto” has that world beat style with great vocal harmonies on the chorus part – a nice upbeat, danceable tune to get things going. “Release” features funky grooves. Again, it feels like a song you would dance to. The guitar parts reminded me a little of Carlos Santana’s style of playing. The bass guitar was thick and funky. “Coco” has a world beat, more in the African style I would say, and the drums are deep, rich and varied. Some parts feel like the band veered off into a free-form jazz style.
“Take My Hand” has that Paul Simon “Graceland” sound a la “Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes.” It’s joyful and it feels like summer. I really enjoyed “Khamsin” for its slow moodiness and mystery and for the more traditional Egyptian/Middle Eastern flavor that the band focused on. The chanting vocals after six minutes or so was cool as was the tempo picking up faster at the end. On “Walking Miles” the drums are up front and the beat is in a reggae style. The drums also offer a lot of fills and variations while the guitar fills in with melodic riffs. The reggae style later changes into something that sounds like the Allman Brothers.
“Cycles” is a dusty, acoustic folk-rock number which shows yet another side to these veteran artists. Great vocal harmonies and a little vocal chanting can be heard at the end. Music fades in with the beginning of “Out On Your Own.” The bass is full and bright, guitars beautifully layered and working off each other. This one has a soundscape quality to it and at times gets a little funky and trippy with the psychedelic.
“Roots” is a ten-minute ride that starts off with lyrics straight from Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” and then after goes into what I can only guess is a Grateful Dead song (sorry lads, not a big fan) and ending with lines from John Coltrane’s masterpiece “A Love Supreme.” This last tune does seem set apart from the band’s other songs but for obvious reasons – it’s a medley of other recording artists’ work. If you’re into varied rhythms, joyful jams and unique arrangements that aren’t your everyday cut and dry songs, give Big Blue World a try.
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