“This sounds like nothing I ain’t heard before,” keyboardist Matt Iselin howls through the explosive funk and swinging horn brigade of “Waste Management,” the third track—and one of two vocal numbers—on Afroskull’s latest offering, To Obscurity and Beyond. And he’s right. The second release from the genre-defying New York-via-New Orleans consortium (their frst in nearly a decade) plays out as if Frank Zappa ditched the Mothers of Invention for the Meters before recording Weasels Ripped My Flesh.
A vintage air permeates this twisted time-warp, one rife with the ethos of early prog-metal and jazz-funk: cryptic compositions, sonorous sludge, gritty syncopation, and rhythmic improvisation. But, as the album cover suggests, Afroskull’s gearing up for the future—even if their plans are to carom through space in a rocket-fueled Winnebago. And they waste no time blasting off, barreling ahead at full speed through the tight, shifty streaks of “Spyplane.” Credit drummer Jason Isaac, percussionist Seth Moutal and bassist Dan Asher, whose convulsive pocket powers the disc’s frenetic blitz.
Guitarist, composer, and Afroskull founder Joe Scatassa stretches the sonic terrain on “Redemption,” the album’s most eclectic and imaginative composition. It’s a psychedelic space salsa topped with a trippy jazz sequence, a sinister bridge, and an unhinged organ boogie. But that’s just a prelude to the mind-bending “Escape From Rome,” a menacing and meddlesome sendoff. Set your sights on obscurity and beyond.