The Oscillators are a relatively new funk group from Seattle, led by drummer Olli Klomp. Not an official band yet, but more of a studio experimentation, Klomp brought in players from other local groups such as the polyrhythmics, Rippin’ Chicken, The Pulsations, Lucky Brown, The Trueloves, 45th Street Brass, and The S.G.’s. However they want to define themselves at this point, these musicians came together to record a self-titled album under the name The Oscillators.
The Oscillators aren’t necessarily doing anything new in that they feel like more of a retro jazz/funk/soul act, but when that type of music is done well, you don’t really care if anyone is blazing a new path. You just care that the grooves are good and that the music is soulful and that it is fun to listen to. And to that extent, the experiment of the first album from The Oscillators is a success. They might not have the miles of touring as a tight ensemble under their belt, but Klomp clearly recruited a lot of top notch players who understood what the project was and were able to slide in and play off of each other really well and lock into some really gritty funk. Where The Oscillators begin to forge an identity is that they manage to weave in a bit of psychedelia to their sound, pushing the funk into some interesting territories of layered instrumentation and effects, all without ever losing these tight grooves that the music is built around. The only small piece of the album that doesn’t work is the inclusion of vocals. It’s not that vocals couldn’t work with the band – they certainly could – but it’s rather that the vocals feel like an after thought. They only show up briefly on two songs sung by someone who didn’t come across as a vocalist and with lyrics that felt abstract to the point of just being confusing in such a small sample size. Everything else on the album is done so well and with such purpose, it just felt weird to include vocals that felt like that. If they could recruit someone who could really belt out some soulful vocals that could float over the layers of guitar, horns, organ, bass, and drums, The Oscillators might take things to the next level.
The Oscillators are just finding their footing as a project with their first album, which is to be expected. That said, Olli Klomp managed to assemble quite the crew of musicians for this project, and they crafted some really great gritty vintage funk in the process.
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