One can never tell what Will Holland will do next. The producer for the last fifteen years has never ceased to amaze with the music he has made that seems somehow timeless in its soulfulness. He’s like a fuzzy, musical nucleus that manages to keep time floating in orbit. That same feeling carries over to his latest venture, the group The Western Transient, which includes musicians like Sylvester Onyejiaka, aka Sly5thAve, and keyboardist Brandon Coleman. What results is a totally chill album called A New Constellation.
Something about the album title seems all too appropriate, like this is the soundtrack to late summer stargazing. There’s a chillness that flows through every Quantic release, yet there’s some extra level here. To some degree, this is a kind of return to form, particularly after last year’s more vocal Magnetica. The soul and cumbia vibes are strong with this one but with a light and airiness to it that will never let one’s mind wander too far away from some sandy beach. It’s an absolute delight hearing these songs.
The melding of the horns here is just far too sweet– Onyejiaka on flute and tenor sax and Todd Simon on trumpet and flugelhorn are perfectly in sync, capturing the classic soul vibe that this album is designed to convey. Brandon Coleman is expressive but generally unshowy on piano and Moog synths, holding down the rhythm often, just as adeptly as bass guitarist Gabe Boel throughout. Percussion from Alan Lightner and Wilson Viveros is crisp and clean. However, it must be said how good Will Holland is a guitarist, truly opening up his compositions and providing a groove that puts him pleasantly at center at all the best times.
Will Holland is a producer. Typically, this entails electronic fiddling, but it’s the arrangement of elements that’s the most crucial part of the job. Will Holland makes great music happen. He has for the last decade and a half and he has done so again with The Western Transient, a group of talented musicians who know how to execute, even when the music they make wouldn’t typically bring to mind the word “execute”. They evoke words more like “breezy” and “chill” and “hazy” and “drinks with rum”. A New Constellation brings out all of that. It’s a vacation through time and space to a better place.
Will Holland (Director / Producer / Guitar)
Wilson Viveros (Drum Kit)
Sylvester Onyejiaka (Flute / Tenor Saxophone)
Todd Simon (Trumpet / Flugelhorn)
Brandon Coleman (Piano / Moog)
Gabe Boel (Bass Guitar)
Alan Lightner (Percussion / Steel Drum)
All songs composed and arranged by Will Holland
Mixed by Will Holland & Simon Guzman
Recorded at Kingsize North, LA
Mixed at Sound Workshop, Brooklyn
Photography by B+
Product Photography by Ben Cox (Gnarled Apple)
Design by Stephen Serrato
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.