Spencer Elliott’s SE3 Is Exceptional
It’s so haaard to say where to begin when attempting to deconstruct, or perhaps reconstruct, the work of art known as Spencer Elliott’s SE3, which is dropping April 8. This is an entire album comprised solely of the guitar (although there almost surely are different varieties of that instrument), bass, and drums, courtesy of Elliott himself, Sean Syndor, and Chris Hudson, respectively.
The quandary lies in the fact that at various points in time all these gentlemen vie with one another for the most captivating performance.
If you decided to start off with the bass, you surely can’t lose. Sydnor has some of the most inspired, and outright funky bass lines on this planet—certainly at the juncture in which he was laying down this work. “Torque”, the leadoff cut and single that was released January 14, demonstrates this point beyond any dubiousness.
The thing is, you can’t groove too hard to it without hearing the exceptional guitars Elliott’s lacing over the top. He kicks this cut off simply rippling through notes like a waterfall with some sort of effect that’s almost tangible in its feel and sumptuousness. Plus, my man’s got the proclivity for making one of those guitars damn near sound like keys. There’s no telling if that’s due to guitar harmonics or what the case may be, but there’s no keyboardist credited on this work, so it must be Elliott doing what he does best.
In fact, he reprises that sound on “The Tournament”—about which time he may jump in the lead for most outstanding player of the album. More than the other songs, perhaps, this opus evinces his peerless ability on this instrument. Dude’s hitting it double time over a relatively slow tempo, but that’s man’s fingers are moving.
Sydnor surges back into the race (if not in the lead) on “Rain Shadow”, which is one of those numbers you simply won’t want to end. The overall sound and feel of the track is the desert plains, undeniably. But Sydnor’s bass is working wonders, just as deftly and celeritously as you may please, while Elliott dances atop it with his acoustic instrument.
All of them do the thang on “4_20” in which even Hudson gets to playing swiftly with deliberate pauses and accelerated motion in his craft. Sydnor once again puts together one of those funkalicious bass lines, and it becomes clear that there is no winner here but the listener that gets to enjoy these treats.