Clearly, the title Below Zero exists solely to note just how chill Bryan Carrigan’s newest release is. With its mix of downtempo grooves, world and dub influences, and smooth combination of electronic and acoustic, this is a laid-back and loop-worthy bit of work. With a sneaky little vinyl crackle to open the proceedings, the title track immediately hits you with dub-swiped echoes and cool keyboard tones and tasty bass that immediately evoke thoughts of the “exotic electronica” style from the early 2K’s. I would have been completely okay with it if Carrigan had decided that this was the only direction the disc would take. He hits it again on the cocktail-cool flow of “Twist of Lime,” which shuffles along on a house-style beat and thick blobs of bass. It gives you an extra dose of aww yeah from icy trumpet riffs that sound like what would happen if Mark Isham decided to get funky. That feel comes back up in “Frisky Martini,” with the trumpet playing alongside crisp piano notes. The lounge-style stuff is very well done here, and it deservedly wears its pedigree proudly. But what makes the disc really work is the way Carrigan switches things up as we float along. There’s an irresistible Spanish guitar flair in both “Almost There” and “Catalan” that makes me long for Acoustic Alchemy. (Sorry to keep name-dropping, but these are the places Carrigan takes me.) This is where that acoustic/electronic meld is at its best; there’s something in the rich organic tone of the strings, not to mention that romantic edge Spanish guitar has, that really resonates in me. “Runway” touches the edge of techno/trance, with piano breaks dividing the high-speed flow. Carrigan is professionally involved in video and film production, so it comes as no surprise that there’s often a cinematic sense in the pieces. I could see a number of them finding their way into commercial use. (I’m looking at you, “TGV.”) Catchy, infectious, upbeat…I’m ready to buy. You should be, too. Below Zero is an excellent release from Bryan Carrigan, an artist who is now firmly on my must-listen list.
Available from Bryan Carrigan’s web site.