Written by Charles Frank
Urban Shaman Attack, hailing from Wilmington, Delaware, is a group whose album, How to Build a Spacekraft is a psychedelic wormhole into the world of acid jazz fusion. The album is a ten track instrumental offering with salient transitions. The record is best explored by breaking it into three segments: the ascent, the voyage, and the return.
The ascent: Listeners are met with “That Which Numbs,” a piece that floats a clarinet on top of a cymbal as it winds through an echoey corridor. Spacey introductory tones with light guitar riffs create a deep space sound. This leads into “That Which Lets,” which is 13:55 of planetary textures, with a dance bridge amidst its layers. “Manners of Persuasion” is a full on hip shaker, in which guitars start to take control of the tempo, creating a section of the album that is a personal favorite. “Cleared for Ascension” closes this initial section, and returns the listener to a multi-pronged rhythm explosion.
The voyage: “Sound Space Journey” is a relaxed, revolving chamber where percussion and african drums sew a nice pocket for the beat. “Invisible Landscape” again finds the lingering clarinet over subdued land-like effects. Birds sing amidst delicate keyboard strokes. The piece plucks itself to “Venus Lounge,” a place where nature is met with true jazz.
The return: “Return of the Champ” is a burst back into the atmosphere. A fluid call-and-return between clarinet and keys wraps this cosmic break beat into a tight jam. Make way for “Black Hole,” the crescendo and penultimate song on “How to build a Spacekraft.” Inevitably, listeners must best the manifestation of returning to reality, and that is “Black Hole.” This is appropriately the longest song on the album, and the most explosively confusing. The listener is confronted with sound from all angles. Concluding with “Home Again,” we are remet with the echo effects of the introduction. The clarinet has reassumed its cosmic bobbing, and the album decelerates under a conga drum and a few trips to both ends of the piano.
This composition was different, weird, and good. I implore readers to step through the wormhole and into the starscape with the Urban Shaman Attack. “How to Build a Spacekraft” can be found on Spotify, Apple Music, and more. Check the Urban Shaman Attack Facebook page for their May and June tour dates in addition to more media.