The kind of experimental approach to music that’s carried out by French drummer and songwriter Manu Katché may be seen, from a certain point of view, similar to what I’m trying to do in this blog: to move with relative ease among different genres in order to recognize and highlight those universal features that transform notes and harmonies into good music, regardless of whether it’s rock, jazz, metal, pop or electronic. There is a substantial difference, however: what I do is basically to listen to huge amounts of music and select the best for my readers; while Mune Katché writes the music, and then he plays it. That’s the reason why I feel great admiration for the French artist. Anyway, with all the differences, I still believe that in the end his objectives and mine remain essentially the same: overcoming the fragile barriers that exist between different styles, and genres, while searching for the very essence of music.
Because of his peculiar approach to Jazz, all the albums released so far by Manu Katché have always shown many different influences from rock, pop and soul. But what he did for his new album, The Scope, goes absolutely beyond what every fan of him could have ever imagined.
In the ninth album of his discography, Manu Katché has introduced so many elements from groove, pop, dance, and even reggae, that at this point it’s almost impossible to say which kind of music we have in The Scope. Even beacuse the quantity of “synthetic” components has definitely surpassed the amount of “analogue” ones, which include his drums.
What’s my feeling about this work? Mixed. And this is not because of Katché’s desire to experiment with new styles, something which at least in principle is very good, and which he alreadys did in the past.
Let’s start from the positive aspects. First, if we consider how many different things have been put all together in the LP, it’s remarkable that the touch and the signature sound of Manu Katché is always recognizable in all the ten tracks of the record. This is an evidence of what level of stylistic coherence he has reached at this point of his career: he has really developed an immediately identifiable and exciting style. Second, listening to Katché when he plays the drums is always fantastic. By the way, one doesn’t become by chance one of the most famous drummers on Earth.
On the negative side, it’s evident that Katché’s journey into the world of electronic music has brought him venturing lands and territories where he lacks some experience. In these situations, passion and curiosity may for sure help, but only up to some point. Playing something completely new, in its essence, puts you at the level of a novice, and a song like Tricky 98, just to mention the most blatant example, is honestly embarassing for an arstist of his caliber. I really wish I had never listened to it.
In summary: the new album by Manu Katché is the artist’s most experimental record to date. It offers many element of interest, but it also demonstrates that one cannot simply try something completely new and achieve success on the first attempt.
His approach to experimentation is estimable and I totally agree with the idea of going forward and try new ideas. However, I believe that when one puts his hands on something different, the criteria for self-assessment should be more stringent than in normal conditions.
After comparing all positives and negatives aspects, my overall rating for the album is 6/10. Favourite songs are: Don’t U Worry and Overlooking.
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