Time & Energy - Strange Kind of Focus

It's a misconception to suggest that experimental music cannot also be entertaining. That's the same sort of wrongheadedness that implies educational TV isn't also an enjoyable entertainment option. Just because sounds reach for the brain and heart simultaneously, doesn't rule out the possibility it'll hit both marks.

Time & Energy, a duo consisting of a couple friends in Jorge Rios and Brennan Roach, have given us a disjointed, but still groove conscious offering titled Strange Kind of Focus. While many of these tracks stop and start with unpredictable intervals, a little like a less blues-oriented Captain Beefheart album, this pair proves it can also create a straight forward, heartfelt acoustic ballad in "Breakdown." The two sing it so sweetly over strummed acoustic guitars, you'd almost assume � if, of course, this was the only sample you'd ever heard from them � they were a sensitive folk duo. And they truly are a sensitive folk duo, at least for one track. Time & Energy also expends effort on the prettier side of life during "Sitting on a Scale," where a beautiful melody is matched with smooth singing.

"Breakdown" is followed by the funky soul groove of "Split Clean," which at only 1:49 sounds like Beck during his funkier period. The group then jumps right into something much less groove-oriented and far more layered and cluttered with "DaDaDa." On it, guitars make noise and melody at the same time, almost as if the stringed instrument can't decide if it wants to make trouble or make nice. The chorus is sung over a descending scale, much like a downward death spiral. At the same time, the percussion is highlighted by jazzy drumming. It comes off like an avant-garde guitarist sitting in with a traditional jazz combo where beautiful chaos ensues.

Getting back to Captain Beefheart, Time & Energy goes for a little soul-blues during "O'Molly." On an unusual lyric, which paraphrases the hymn "Amazing Grace," the group rocks in a blues-y way. Yet in stark contrast, the acoustic piano-accented "Think it through" finds the group singing like The Kinks, complete with a spot-on music hall vibe. It even finds the guys whistling a bit. The vocal is a dead ringer for Ray Davies singing "Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon." Sweet!

One of the more crazy factors one discovers when listening through Strange Kind of Focus is that nothing here reaches the four-minute mark. Experimental musicians have a reputation for being about as sonically long-winded as college political science professors. And yet, you can't get away from the feeling this pair is trying to make the perfect pop song � albeit perfect for a slightly twisted alternate universe.

If you're even slightly twisted yourself, you'll find plenty of pleasure in Time & Energy's Strange Kind of Focus. These two musicians must hear pop music differently than the average person might. Whereas most folks hear funky in their heads, these guys hear clanky, instead, and it sounds just as good � if not better. Time spent with Time & Energy is time and energy well spent because we all get tired of smooth perfectionism after a while. Smooth jazz is an oxymoron, and might just be the antichrist. That makes Time & Energy's noisy pop music simply heavenly, in contrast.

Time & Energy - Strange Kind of Focus

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