Independent musician and former Pimps of Joytime front man Brian J is apparently not the type of person to rest easy on his laurels. As noted, he has recorded and performed with Pimps of Joytime. Additionally, he has collaborated with blues musician Cedric Burnsid, as well as his own music collective known as Gitkin. That project has already created one full length studio recording and an EP, which was released in March. Today, the group followed up that EP with its second album, Safe Passage. The 11-song album is largely an instrumental presentation that builds on the successes of its predecessors. That is evidenced in part through the recording’s featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The sequencing of those arrangements builds on the foundation formed by the arrangements and enriches the record even more. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation. When it is considered along with the noted arrangements and their sequencing, the result of that combination is a presentation that continues to cement Brian J’s reputation as a talented musician and producer.
Gitkin’s new sophomore studio recording Safe Passage is a record that will appeal equally to the act’s fans and those of its founder Brian J. That is proven in part through the musical arrangements that make up the body of the 39-minut presentation. The arrangements in question continue a trend that Brian J has used in each of the past two Gitkin records, that of incorporating Middle Eastern influences and hop-hop elements together for the whole of each work. There are even some Greek influences added to the arrangements to make them even more engaging and entertaining. One of the points that shows that Greek influence is in the album’s midpoint, ‘Spug Life.’ The Greek influence comes primarily through the song’s lute line. It has to be assumed without liner notes that the lute in question is a bouzouki, which is part of the lute family. The addition of the guitar line adds an old school funk element while the use of the tuba here adds a hip-hop sensibility to the composition’s whole. One would not think that the three musical styles work together, but hearing them, it is clear that Brian J makes them work, and very well at that.
While the record boasts plenty of Middle Eastern and Greek influence in its presentation, those are not the only influences exhibited in the record. The album also boasts an infectious surf rock groove early on in ‘Cat Nip.’ The guitar line and drums couple with the bass line here to make this a song that will impress the genre’s fans and those of the genre’s pioneer Dick Dale alike. Even more worth stating is that even with the noted influence fully on display here, the song still boasts its own unique identity. Considering that the song’s title is ‘Cat Nip’ one can only imagine if Brian J wrote this arrangement after seeing a cat’s reaction to said item, since it is said to have quite the effect on felines. This critic and likely thousands of others have seen the behavioral impact that the product has on cats, so maybe, just maybe that is what Brian J was trying to illustrate with this composition. Regardless, the song’s infectious nature serves to show even more why the album’s musical arrangements are so important to its presentation. ‘De La,’ which comes late in the album’s run is another example of what makes Safe Passage’s arrangements key to its success.
‘De La’ is yet an example of how Brian J incorporated the noted Middle Eastern influence into this record. The influence is audible, but is also subtle. Brian J balanced that influence along with a distinct country blues style approach for a whole that continues to show his growth as an artist and producer. It is a work that is unlike any of the album’s other featured arrangements, too. The addition of the choral element into the mix adds even more to the song’s depth. The whole of the elements makes the arrangement yet another example of the importance of the album’s musical arrangements in whole. When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and the album’s other entries, the result is a presentation that leaves zero doubt as to the impact of the record’s musical content. When the sequencing of the arrangements is considered along with the songs themselves, that whole enriches the album’s listening experience even more.
Safe Passage opens on a mid-tempo note in ‘Nosotros Tambien.’ The song is another that exhibits Brian J’s continued use of Middle Eastern and American hip-hop fusings. It keeps listeners fully engaged through that hybrid approach and its energy. Much the same can be said of ‘Cut Out,’ which immediately follows. The stylistic approach changes again in ‘Cat Nip,’ but the album’s energy remains stable in this arrangement, ensuring even more, audiences maintained engagement. It is not until ‘Foot Steps’ that the album’s energy pulls back at all. It makes for a good way to break up the album, too. It keeps audiences from getting too comfortable with the album. ‘Wing Nut’ and ‘Spug Life’ – the album’s next two tracks – pick things back up momentarily before ‘Hold On’ breaks things up again. From there, the record’s ups and downs continue right up to its end. Simply put, the album’s sequencing ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment just as much as the album’s content itself. That is because it ensures the record’s energies are balances from beginning to end. When this is considered along with the album’s content, these two elements go a long way toward making this album that much more appealing to audiences. They are not its only key elements. The album’s production puts the finishing touch to the presentation.
The production that went into Safe Passage is important to note because as with the sequencing, it plays into the album’s aesthetic side, too. Again, the album features a variety of elements within each song. There are Middle Eastern influences, Greek influences and various American influences (E.g. blues and hip-hop) exhibited throughout the record. Considering the balance that the songs show in those noted elements and that of the very instrumentation of each arrangement, it is clear that much time and effort was put into making each song sound its best. Those painstaking efforts paid off. The result is a record that works just as well because of its production as for its content and sequencing thereof. Keeping all of this in mind, the album in whole proves to be another successful effort from Gitkin that, again, continues to cement Brian J’s reputation as a musician and producer.
Gitkin’s sophomore album Safe Passage is a positive new offering from Brian J. and his fellow musicians who took part in this project. That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question continue to show Brian J’s development even as he continues to use fuse Middle Eastern and American influences together. The arrangements boast their own identity even with the familiar stylistic approach to the works. The sequencing of the noted arrangements adds to the album’s appeal in that it balances the songs’ energies expertly from beginning to end. The album’s production puts the final touch to its presentation. It shows that just as much time and effort was put into making the album sound good within the songs as it does from one song to the next. Each noted item is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Safe Passage a safe new offering from Gitkin that is just as worth hearing as the act’s past works. The album is available now.
More information on Safe Passage is available online now along with all of Gitkin’s latest news at:
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