The Seasons: Undone
City Centre Offices

Purposefully eschewing boundaries, The Seasons merges acoustic and electronic instruments into a polished jazz-house fusion on the hour-long Undone. Comprised of Sam Rouanet (guitar, programming), Phil Stumpf (polysix, programming), and James Sindatry (double bass, flute, programming), and augmented by Jacques Rouanet (Rhodes) and Rob Mazurek (cornet) on a handful of tracks, the group treats every composition as an opportunity to try on a slightly different stylistic persona.

The band's generally laid-back sound is lush, and the album's compositions are wrapped in dense swells of synth patterns and their arrangements meticulously worked out. Undone is more akin to lush jazz-fusion than aggressive post-rock with the exception of “Discord” where The Seasons and Mazurek work up some aggressive electronic jazz-funk (the tune, in fact, sounds not unlike something Miles Davis and Marcus Miller might have cooked up for Tutu). The album's most perfectly realized piece arrives first in the languorous opener “Capital,” an impeccable and seamless blend of jazz and house styles. Over the course of its seven minutes, delicate guitar and synths repeatedly voice the entrancing main theme while softly shuffling percussion patterns and handclaps prod the groove along, and Rouanet's gleaming Rhodes cascades and Sindatry's warm double bass provide lovely counterpoint. Elsewhere, the latter's flute playing assumes the solo spotlight amidst the synth arpeggios and minimal funk of “Rayon Vert” while hints of South American and jazz-fusion rhythms lend swing to the otherwise heavily electronic “Guacha.”

The Seasons might consider extending full membership status to Mazurek (whose muted horn floats over lulling, synth-heavy head-nod in “Out There” and enlivens three other pieces) given that his solo voice is the most distinctive; if there's a downside to the group's music, it's that, by opting to be more lush than aggressive, Undone can too easily start to feel like sophisticated background music.

January 2008