Follow the signals to the path. Thats what Habitats is all about. If you haven’t heard of Signal Path yet, it’s time to sit down for a listen. The Front Range-based band has built a name for themselves around Denver as a jazzy Electrofunk outfit and creates music by blending genres, live performance elements and electronic production. Technically, they are impressive–literally standing alone, without the need for vocals. Released on October 10, Habitats is the band’s most recent offering. It delivers a sound that lives up to the Signal Path rep, and what’s more, they are selling it with a pretty little “name your own price” tag attached to it.
The album has a touch of fantasy; songs trigger visions of dream-like imagery as the band weaves a path made of live instrumentation and technology. The opening track “Night Lightening” lays the scene in a mystical meadow where fairies frolic, a beautiful place, untouched by the hands of mankind, but before you become too comfortable with their surroundings, you are whisked away into space, traveling through the universe across alien landscapes on the back of a foreign winged creature to a great but unknown destination. Whatever it is, it is big, and so is the anticipation. Layers of instrumentation and sampling are added and subtracted as if they were pieces to a puzzle, building and building until a layer of dirty bass grindage brings the song to a climax, inevitably followed by a drop and then the only discernable lyrics in the piece, “I’m sorry for what I’ve done.” The song is appropriately progressive for a first track and packs a nice punch, getting the album off to a pleasant start.
The second song, “Glow” continues with a bubbly sample accompanied by a fast beat and live guitar. The tempo rises and falls, laying the perfect foreground for the next track “Bit Scribble,” which is cool, serene and almost trancey at first but suddenly surprises you with a funky guitar chorus that definitely was made for dancing.
The next track “Last Remembrance of the Serengeti” might be the best on the album, a jazzier EDM number with the saxophone of Pete Wall echoing in the background. This song starts small and grows until those ever so catchy Dubstep elements are added at the pinnacle of the tune, and all the while, even amongst the wobbly bass sounds, the song still has a Trance-like quality almost reminiscent of Robert Miles or old-school Paul Van Dyk.
“Wolf Cry” feat. Relic Secure has some of the best instrumental and production qualities, but was somewhat disappointing–the addition of vocals to Signal Path is a hard line to drive, and while Relic Secure gave dynamism to the song by adding a Hip-Hop element and his lyrics were a good fit, his vocals are reminiscent of DMX and don’t mesh well with the rest of the song. Below the vocals, however, is an awesome track that makes one think of the time-old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“Yellow Horizons” continues in the same futuristic Techno EDM vein as “Glow,” but reincorporates the Jazz with sax and guitar elements. The last song on the album “Lash Out” closes Habitats with a bang. It starts out with a four on the floor beat and builds, adding guitar and other sample layers, then breaks down into a funky chorus sample, then builds again, more and more until boom! The album is over.
After 12 albums, it is no surprise that Habitats is a well-tuned rendition of Signal Path’s art, but it has some new development thanks to Cody Wille, who managed the electronic production for the first time, and the rest of the band seems pleased with the outcome. “The whole band tracked [Habitats] live with Cody handling a lot of the production and post production on the album,” says drummer Damon Metzner, “I love the way that it came out.”
The release of Habitats heralds the advent of future local performances that will undoubtedly bring in crowds which will spontaneously combust into impromptu dance parties, leaving behind memories that will be remembered fondly. So the next time you see them on a ticket, grab one, and for now, you can name your own price for this tasty little album and call it your own. It’s definitely worth whatever you are willing to spend.