Reviews: An essay on ‘Sketches’ vol. 2 by The 59th Sound

I’m pretty blown away by The 59th Sound’s review of ‘Sketches’ vol. 2. What begins as a review of the second EP from The Sketches Project becomes an essay about the Project, the themes it explores, and the music itself within that context.

I’m reposting this review not simply because of its flattery, but also because it articulates of some of the things I’m trying to explore with The Sketches Project but, for now at least, perhaps struggle to convey through all my posts, ramblings and updates.

You can read The 59th Sound’s full review here.

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The latest release of Ray Mann Three, Sketches vol. 2 is an innovative approach to the creation of new music, by using an online forum to bring the audience into the creative and editing processes of recording new music. The idea behind the Sketches series is to create an interactive environment to allow the band and their audience to work together on the tracks, bringing in creative and artistic influences from across the world and throwing them all together to see what is created.

This month long interactive process for each track starts with a new song and raw video posted onto the forum at the beginning of the month and left for the members of the site, both band and audience, to add their own comments and edits. The forum allows changes in lyrics, musical arrangements, videos, art pieces as well as comments and discussions between members. Not only does this process allows increased connection with the audience, but also creates finished tracks that explore different musical and lyrical styles than Ray Mann Three’s typical works.

The first track off this volume, Bleeding is a stomp-rock track with a heavy bass drum and handclaps creating the driving beat. This track kicks off the band’s exploration of more upbeat and percussion heavy music, while letting go of their earlier soul-inspired and stripped down style. The lyrics, speaking of letting go and moving forward, exemplifies the band’s own move forward. However, the lively bass line and simple guitar notes, both traits of the band’s earlier works, create a jazz/blues sound to the track and plays up the styling that their fan base knows them for.

Wannado, the second track, plays very differently to the preceding track, highlighting the range of styles and influences explored through the Sketches project. The minimalist musical arrangement plays up early 80s disco style with clear influences from Michael Jackson and Boz Scaggs. The catchy chorus and the continuation of the lively bass line from Bleeding create a flow between the songs on the CD as well as with earlier band albums.

As the final track off this Sketches volume, Soapbox presents another different musical concept, with a style based heavily in the sounds of Tom Waits. The track brings a fiery collaboration of percussion and bass into the mix with dirty guitar and heavy vocals, busting into a style previously unexplored by The Ray Mann Three. And despite the significant contrast to the earlier tracks of this CD, the overall tone blends with the previous songs, and creates a cohesive record.

By bringing a new form of expression and development to their new tracks, The Ray Mann Three have created an interactive process that has reshaped their influences and styles of music.  The Sketches project not only creates a dynamic creative process, but has also produced a vibrant and explorative collection of innovative and inspiring songs that are a credit to the band and their audience.

Bethany Williams