Singer/ Drummer James “Biscuit” Rouse’s debut album Conversations in Analog, vol. 1 marks Rouse’s first album as a bandleader, but he is no stranger to progressive sounds - having lended his razor sharp pocket to many diverse artists, including jazz bassist Gerald Veasley as well as the Rolling Stones Band members in the Band 2 Project. After returning home to New York from a tour with hip hop star Lauryn Hill, Rouse decided to complete this, his first, instrumental project. Unlike some other drummers’ albums though, you’ll not find extended solos and drumstick pyrotechnics here; just Rouse doing what he does best – laying tight, funky grooves.
The title Conversations in Analog, vol.1, describes the free-flowing conversation between live instruments one to another, as well the conversation between the band and the listener, whenever groove-based music becomes a living, breathing being, reminiscent to the styles of Parliament and George Duke. “We live in a digital age, where everything is sonically supposed to be extra clean and precise, even down to the musicality of the performers”, says Rouse, “yet when we listen to the older records you hear the grit, and grime, and even sometimes the mistakes, that create that unique, magical character to the sound. So when I say Conversations in Analog, I’m really talking about a conscious effort to return to that level of authenticity in soulful musical conversation.” To that end, Conversations in Analog, vol 1 is a wholly contemporary amalgam of jazz, soul, and house, skillfully acknowledging the past yet presenting a concept that is solidly in the here and now.
The first single from Conversations, entitled Lemme Getta features the sultry vocal stylings of singer Mavis Swan Poole in a Hendrix-ian cascade of rock and soul, and tells the story of a woman’s realization that her lover is not all he appears to be. Along the same sonic palette, is Rouse’s only cover song on the project, Strawberry Fields. “I just wanted to pay tribute to one of my favorite song writing groups of all time, the Beatles, and meld it with the sound of one of my favorite singers, Donny Hathaway. If Donny and John were to have written a song together, this would have been it.” Rouse returns back to the funk with Bootcamp Hill, which was written after Rouse heard the groove in a dream while on a tour bus on the road with Lauryn Hill. The pulsing grooves directly reflect the influence of Ms. Hill’s approach to unconventional sound palettes, and features collaborations with bass clarinetist Scott Kreitzer as well as Rouse’s violinist wife, Charisa. But ultimately it is the raw funk and fusion of Rouse’s song Freedom, that acts as a summary to his sound, Featured on the track is Rouse’s unique ability to both play and sing at the same time, heralding to the likes of drummers Buddy Miles, Phil Collins, and Stokley (from Mint Condition). And freedom is what you will find in this record, freedom to move, to groove, and to discover how much you won’t be able to restrain yourself from breaking into a dance along with the James Rouse Band, and Conversations in Analog, vol. 1.
1. Bootcamp Hill- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions)
Drums: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Bass: Chris Parks, Guitar: Teddy Crockett, Rhoads: Will Brock, Bass Clarinet: Scott Kreitzer, and Violin: Charisa
"The Violin Diva"
2. Freedom- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions)
Drums/ Piano/ Lead and background Vocals: James"Biscuit" Rouse, Bass: Doug Grigsby III, Guitar: Stan Davis, and Wurlitzer: Stan Davis jr.
3. Good Hip- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions)
Drums/ Perc: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Synth Bass/ Rhoads/ Organ/ Rhythm Guitar: Stan Davis jr., Lead Guitar: Jake Morelli, and Trumpet: Phil
4. Lemme Getta- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions), Tom Spiker and Lyrics by Mavis Swan Poole
Drums: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Bass/ Guitar/ Synth: Tom Spiker, and Lead Vocals and backgrounds: Mavis Swan Poole
5. Morning Hangover- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions)
Drums: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Bass: Tom Spiker, Rhoads: Adam Klipple, Lead Guitar: Richard Padron, and Rhythm Guitar: Tim Motzer
6. Strawberry Fields- Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (Sony), and Arranged by James "Biscuit" Rouse
Drums: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Bass:Chris Parks, Guitar: David Lindaburg, and Organ/ Rhoads/ Synths/ Strings: David Joubert
7. Welcome to Life- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions)
Drums: James "BIscuit" Rouse, Bass: Chris Parks, Guitar: David Lindaburg, Rhoads/ Synth: Stan Davis jr., and Percussion: David Deaj
8. Would You Shut Up- Written by James "Biscuit" Rouse (Munchy's World Productions) and Tom Spiker
Drums: James "Biscuit" Rouse, Bass/ Guitar: Tom Spiker, Trombone: Phil Yaeger, and Trumpet: Lee Hogans