By: Jay Rollins
Hip Waders’ sophomore release Medusozoa is the perfect album to welcome in new listeners who are eager for discovery and experimentation. While never reaching the emotional lows of heart throbbing ballads, or the uplifting highs of a classic gospel song, Hip Waders merge multiple genres into one diverse fully instrumental record. The overall tone shines without being overtly pop and the more leisurely tracks remain engaging allowing apex moments to cut through.
The album opens up with “Hobo and the Bull” easing into sultry jazz fusion piano backed by a heavy funk lick that builds until your toes are tapping and head is swaying. Piano and synth then dance back and forth in an energetic display; eventually tapering off in the last 20 seconds allowing time for appreciation before re-engaging listeners.
“Slidin’”, I hope is named on account of how easy it is to slip into the bass groove and let it guide you through the good times happening around it. Break out the Cubans, poker chips, highballs, and maybe even a martini. The track is perfectly placed midway in the album and perpetuates the momentum of Medusozoa.
By the time “Lovebirds” comes around the change of pace is well appreciated. The song strikes the balance between leisurely and elevating as it develops ever-so-gradually until finally culminating in a jazzy organ solo accented by bright chimes for additional texture.
“Swift Thrift” is a suitable ending to an eclectic album of this nature. As a finale the track brings a touch of swing, soul, jazz, funk, and other elements found on Medusozoa together for a joyous farewell.
Although the song styles vary, the transitions from song to song are crafted through thoughtful arrangement and listeners are notified what direction the music is taking, often long before we arrive at the destination. All the way through Allan Brake is on point providing the ideal rhythmic foundation as they maneuver from genre to genre.
A runtime of under 30 minutes leaves it a little short for a full album worth of music and I would expect every song to entice throughout the entire record on an album of this length. However, a couple of tracks do fall short and become dismissed background music.
Besides those minor periodic faults, Medusozoa is a combination of elusively familiar patterns and genres merged to give a musical glimmer. Perfect for bright autumn days and long study sessions, just hit repeat. If you have a curiosity for music mixed with an appreciation for the avant-garde this may be your gem of the year.