Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Nov 24th 2009 5:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Characterizing something as "dance music" is always tricky, given that such a signifier can span an entire spectrum of sound, from electro to disco to funk and beyond.
Toronto instrumental quartet Escalate somehow manage to embrace that wide scope in their loose, experimental approach, which runs the gamut from upbeat grooves to chilled-out soul without skipping a beat.
Formed in 2000 by two sets of brothers -- Grant and Tyler Drygas hold down the rhythm section while Shandy and Jordan Kern provide the melodies -- the band foregoes vocals in favour of building dense layers of funky instrumentals that reference jazz, soul, funk, R&B, even a soupçon of Afrobeat.
Their recent sophomore release, 'Other Brothers,' works beautifully as a whole, but the individual tracks also stand up well on their own. In particular, the grammatically-challenged 'Where There's Vans, There's Guns' shows off the buoyant vibe that's made the band the life of the party in Toronto's live scene for years. Kicking off with a Go! Team-esque beats-and-cheers intro, the warm staccato clavinet melody quickly gets heads nodding while the groove is augmented by some delightful handclap percussion.
The entire thing's over in under two minutes, but packs more musical ideas than many tunes twice its length. Sounding at once both old and new -- like a dusty old discovery pulled out of a crate of 45s that sounds remarkably fresh once slapped on the turntable -- Escalate put an updated spin on age-old jazzy grooves by filtering the sound through their own youthful, musically-diverse lens.