Basement 3

(MerryMoleMusic 2002)Basement 3 - Rising

A symphony is defined as a piece with three or more movements. "Rising" by Basement 3 has an overture, two acts and a finale. OK, admittedly you would never find turntables in an orchestra. But the majority of the instruments used on "Rising," from clarinets to organs to cellos, are not uncommon to a classical orchestra. The difference? Basement 3 use the brass in a jazz style, creating a free forming and open feeling, while the percussion pound strong traditional rhythms. This is not your grandmother's afternoon at the symphony.

"Rising" opens strongly with the catchy "Mantra," which features brass instruments meeting turn tables for an interesting mix with Basement 3 mastermind Kenny sounding like Weird Al vocally, not stylistically, as the fast paced lyrics tumble over the laid back rhythm and the jazzy clarinets. "It's time to change the mantra/Before it turns into a monster/Takes a bite out of your soul," Kenny sings on "Mantra." Going a little bit more for a harder rock sound, "Soul of David" features up and down guitar riffs complimented, again, by clarinets for a nice melody. For "Habit" and "Back Home," the mood is more quiet and somber; "Habit" starting slow and low over clacking percussion before building up to a chorus of rough edges while "Back Home" seems darker with its paced rhythm and cello led orchestral instrumentation layered over crackling effects. "Connection" keeps the harder edge from earlier tracks but adds more of a jazz feel.

While the first half of "Rising" had hints of the percussion to come, it is not put in the spotlight until "Forever," where percussion leads with a tribal-type rhythm accented with horns for a unique sound. The pounding drums do not last long as "I Am," a quiet and more traditional ballad, made up initially of only vocals and acoustic guitar before the tempo picks up, enters. "I tried my whole live to push myself around/I finally got tired of getting up off the ground/You might shove a square peg into a round hole/But those sharp little corners gonna tear at your soul," Kenny sings on "I Am." Lead by a nice guitar sequence, Kenny essentially raps his opening vocals on "Rising." "Push," falls back to more of the straightforward rock sound while "Clear," with its addition of turntables and jazzy horns is a combination of sounds. The aptly titled and entertaining "Last Song," jazzy with a free form feel, closes the album.

A combination of rock sensibilities with strings, percussion and horns, "Rising" keeps you interested with its unique sound and sometimes personal lyrics. While a little rough around the edges on occasion, "Rising" wins you over quickly and keeps your attention from beginning to end with its combination of catchy lyrics and rhythms.


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