I Thought Y'all Should Read This
After two laborious years spent in the studio tweaking and whipping their second album, Human Experience (which is slated for February), into sonic shape, about the only thing Infectious Organisms needs to worry about is that their name may conjure uneasiness in ’fraidy-cat Americans. But the only bio-warfare the six Philly transplants are guilty of is spreading gorgeous, lush music like it was a communicable germ. Formed in 1996, the group, which consists of four instrumentalists and two songwriter/MCs, has shared the stage with Amel Larrieux, Outkast, Run DMC and Everlast to name a few. Late last year, they moved here from Richmond, Va. The early buzz on their upcoming release calls it hip-hop’s answer to Radiohead’s Kid A. With earnest and meditative tag-time, narrative rhyming and guitar crescendos, their musical composition is as beautifully unpredictable (think U2’s Unforgettable Fire blended with drum syncopation, and add ambient keys) as a color spectrum visible in bubbles of otherwise-unfortunate petrol spillage. Suffice to say, Infectious ain’t no jizoke.
Infectious Organisms' innovative melodies and rhythms meshed with tenacious lyrics provided concert-goers untainted music in an intimate setting at Mainstreet Bar and Grill Tuesday night. The band's passion matched the concordant sounds and light and dark textures of the music, unequivocally representing what a concert should be.
Infectious Organisms brought out all the stops to entertain the crowd. From the consistent crowd involvement to emcee Jean Kouame crowd surfing, Infectious Organisms pulled off a memorable set.
Prior to the concert, members of Infectious Organisms introduced the show by stating, "Our show will bring energy and fluidity to the crowd." This intensity and fluidity transcended the group and captivated and enthralled the crowd.
The show exhibited that Infectious Organisms is beginning to accumulate a cult-like following. Mainstreet was brimming with fans taken in by a live show that captured their souls as they moved in sync with the band.
The music took the crowd to a place not bound by stereotypes and genre with a fusion of diverse elements spanning the musical spectrum. Incorporating elements from hip-hop to classical music and soul to indie rock, Infectious Organisms is a group that is ready to explode.
Junior Jacquie Mauer, attending her 14th Infectious Organisms show at Mainstreet, echoed this sentiment. "They never cease to amaze me," Mauer said. "They are constantly evolving and get to my heart with their positive message that gives me a constant reminder on how to live my life. All together they are going to be a force."
The fire of Infectious Organisms was evident from front to end in the concert. The concert began with "Medelling Cartel" and "Hall St. Cinema," two vigorous tracks off of its new CD Human Experience, available in stores Feb. 26.
An incredible segue was created by a beautiful song, "Comfort in the Swell." This completely instrumental track gave emcees Felton Martin and Kouame a brief intermission. The musical talents of guitarist Brooke Blair, drummer Will Blair, bassist Dave Sunderland and pianist Mike Matthews were completely on display. Their diffusive melodies also gave fans a brief introduction to the four members' side project, an improv band called Craig.
Matthews mixed in some humor when he came out after the band left the stage momentarily and played a rendition of Linkin Park's "In the End," complete with vocals. The hilarious version of the song by Matthews made the crowd laugh.
After the playful jab at pop music, emcees Martin and Kouame again pleased the crowd with an immaculate performance of "One" that had everyone in the crowd bouncing and singing along. Senior Jen Mullen called it "organic hip-hop that kept the crowd engaged."
Infectious Organisms' performance concluded with a poignant statement in the song "30 Seconds On Earth." Their transitions were seamless and their melodies incredible. The message illuminated, "Sometimes I'm scared that I'm too young to die/It's only human to cry/Sometimes I wonder why the days come before the months do/And when tomorrow confronts you would you be the one to let it pass on by?"
After exiting the stage, Infectious Organisms clearly had left the crowd wanting more. "We want to go as far as we can go and still have fun," Kouame said. The band appears to be on its way to reaching that goal.
Infectious Organisms formed in Richmond and began making music in 1996. The current composition of the band came about approximately three and a half years ago. More information on the band can be found at its Web site, www.infectiousorganisms.com.
The band will play this Friday, Feb. 1 at Baylees in Blacksburg with a return to Harrisonburg likely in the future. Will Blair said, "The JMU area was one of the first places we played outside of Richmond and has been very supportive."
Kouame summed up their music. "There is a different fireplace in each of us and the music comes from the heart." That fire was burning bright on stage as these future stars depicted the essence of music
Infectious Organism. Definition: An individual form of life, such as a plant or animal, that can easily or readily communicate. This definition is not enough to describe the conscious poeticism played over live instrumentation of the underground hip-hop group, Infectious Organisms.
The Richmond, Virginia based underground hip-hop group consists of Dave Sunderland on Bass, Mike Mathews on Piano, Brooke Blair on Guitar and Will Blair on Drums. Altogether they seamlessly fuse jazz and funk with hip-hop to create musical beats that any street poet would be happy to rap to. And in fact, two gifted MCs, Felton Martin and Jean Babtiste, do in fact harmoniously bless the incredibly soothing backbeats. Although Organisms has spawned a new breed of bohemian-chilled rap music, only a few listeners of hip-hop have been lucky enough to hear their indulgent medium.
This is true of underground music in general. For an underground hip-hop group such as Infectious Organisms, their exposure is rarely noticed under the success of commercial rappers these days. You usually see underground groups like them opening for acts not any larger than themselves. Even though it does not seem like a lot to the average pop music listener, about 5000 copies of their 1999 independently released self-titled debut album have been sold. Recognition of the group has increased with every opening Organisms performs for groups such as Medeski, Martin and Wood, The Roots, Blackstar, and Outkast, to name a few. The group's ability to stay un-jaded by their modest performances and profits has been enough for them to follow up their debut album with a second album, released three weeks ago. Their second album, entitled Human Experience, maintains Infectious Organisms's trademark jazz-funk-hip-hop sound.
The group works under the theme of women and men and their daily interactions and is therefore mostly a compilation of songs revolving around love and compassion. Whether they are describing the love for hip-hop or describing the overcoming lives of misguided women in their lives, MCs Babtiste and Martin paint vivid details of each. At one point Babtiste flows, "daddy's little girl running through the streets/ followed by a dark cloud / everybody's got a price / and she's marked down," explaining how the transformation of a young child to a woman has led her to lower standards. This type of poetic imagery linked with underlying messages, is littered like New Year's confetti on this album.
The track "City Limits" is another example of Infectious Organisms's ability to go in- depth into certain aspects of life under the scope of "the city. " A line in this particular track, "And everyone wants to break bread / and get ahead / but when the sun comes up, somebody always lays dead" shows that the neglect of consumerism is depicted by the never-ending death that goes on in the city, yet there are the resources to prevent it. Infectious Organisms's ability to put forth incredibly conscious lyrics is the core of their music.
If that wasn't enough, Infectious Organisms's purely organic sound is a out of body experience. The important track to mention is "Comfort in the Swell," a complete instrumental done by Infectious Organisms that displays their solo ability to create great sounding and relaxing jazz and hip hop fusion. It uses some soft-sounding chimes to bring in the track, and slowly adds a varied guitar picking and medium-paced hip-hop backbeat. This is the making of an incredible interlude to the album and a track that could be played over and over at spoken word joints all over.
Infectious Organisms has made its living on paying royalties to the subscribers of "true" hip-hop culture. The Richmond, Virginia hip-hop group has started playing together in 1996 to the fans who were truly more involved with the politics and cleverness of hip hop culture. Organisms's choice to start with smaller venues has created a dedicated fan base that has an incredible potential to expand. This is a must for any hip-hop enthusiast and is for any believer that chill music with ill poetry can be fused together to instruct thousands.