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.
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.
Read the full review at wonderful music blog One A Day.
It’s often only when somebody goes away that you truly appreciate how much you miss them. The artist formerly known as Raymond Wassef and his various permutations of a trio have been part of the Seidler family fabric for as long as I’ve been writing about music, and we’ve been truly blessed that over the years we’ve bridged the divide between performer and fans and become friends with the man. If you haven’t been with us for long, you may not know that adding another feather to his bow, Ray has actually written us some great pieces on The Isley Brothers and Curtis Mayfield in the past year. Ray returned to Australia this week after a protracted absence – about a year in fact – after he traded in our sunny shores for the cultural hotspot that is Berlin. Not that he’s been sitting on his hind quarters or anything; the one thing you can rely on with the multi-disciplinary creative is that he’s on the web almost as much as we are. Even though he wasn’t physically here, by keeping close tabs on his page, we were able to track Ray’s movements as he launched the next stage of his career, the Sketches project.
An ambitious project which seeks to bring together different strains of art under one roof, Sketches saw Ray Mann utilizing the power of the Internet in shrinking distance to invite his audiences to submit ideas for new songs and videos. Each month he tracked an idea from zero to hero, bringing in suggestions from Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, culminating in a Vimeo clip which showed off his skills with a pen and paper as well as a guitar and mic. As similarly insane people who have committed to a project that ends us eating us alive at least once a week (see: the name of this website and it’s lifespan to date) we have to give props to people who embark on something ambitious and potentially socially damaging just to prove to themselves they can. Anyway, we saw Ray perform some of the new material the other night, and it’s as good as the old stuff that we know and love. But, you know, with extra fresh visuals.
I will personally recommend the Ray Man Three’s music to anybody who will listen to me for as long as I live because I don’t believe that you have to make unwieldy amounts of noise or live on the cutting edge of yesteryear to be entertaining. Every person Ray gets into his band is a phenomenal musician in their own right and hearing them play together is by far one of the ommost rewarding and enriching experiences, because it’s really nice to listen to. especially after seeing so many average bands in the last month, to be around one who not only have the skills but visibly enjoy themselves while they’re at it should not be underestimated. ‘Showya’, the first single from this first suite of what I imagine will be four records is just that; a gorgeous little piece of pop that lends it’s ear to Al Green and Jamie Liddell in equal amounts, both of whom I believe Ray has toured with. It’s that point where you get caught slow-dancing with someone you only just met, as you mutually agree that the honey-soaked vocals and sensuous chords coming out of that gorgeous vintage guitar are of your taste. This isn’t a revival, this it it. It’s not rocket science, but it’s sure great for that rocket in your pocket. Come back soon, Mann.
Soul Of Sydney invited me to review Good Vibrations 2011 for their music blog. I turned in a few words about Erykah Badu, Nas & Damian Marley, Phoenix and more ~ you can read my ham-fisted first attempt at music journalism right here.
Criminally clever funk from The Ray Man Three, a band that knows how to control the rhythms. This song is more space than sound, with a steady cymbal and barely-there bass guitar, leaving everything else to Ray’s Prince-ly vocal and an abrupt, repetitive bark from his two band mates. An amazingly distinctive tune.