The Human Experience manifested his new project Gone Gone Beyond in atypically unconventional fashion. David Block traveled to Brooklyn and was blessed sit in on one of twenty-one live improv sessions with over forty-three musicians involved. From those vamps and the ensuing collaborative/creative binge comes Gone Gone Beyond. The self-titled record will be released today, January 22nd; and its high time and good reason to rejoice.
David Block is no stranger to collaboration; it is in fact a huge part of his artistic DNA. He plays well with others, as evidenced by magnificent re-imaginations with Rising Appalachia (Soul Visions), and Ignacio Perez Borrell & Igor Rakuz-Izik of Buena Vista Social Club (Chan Chan). Teaming up as a trio, with vocalist Danny Musengo (vocals and charisma for NYC rock/roots/gospel band Ludlow Thieves), and guitarist/songwriter Paul Weinfield, Block also plays numerous instruments on the record, and handles production. Gone Gone Beyond is an admittedly new lane for The Human Experience; and finely crafted original songs, with lyricism and live instrumentation beaming at the forefront, deliver a tremendous debut offering.
The opener “Back Swing” is an airy, mid tempo introduction to the project. Utilizing hand claps to set it off proper (as Block is known to do) the vocals are at once the focus, a raspy, bluesy style with indie leanings. Trumpets and trombones ring out, and we are implored that “They don’t understand the game.” A walking upright bass leads the way and Gone Gone Beyond has opened the door.
“Carnival” begins as a piano ballad, with folk pop undertones; singer Danny Musengo unveils shades of Andrew Wood (Mother Love Bone) once did on “Chloe Dancer”. Sonically, the song veers into minimalist house doused with a sliver of Chicago club, and Musengo’s takes a new texture over the uptempo jam and bulbous electro-bassline. One can hear the Playa-tech-sexy of Block’s Cats Pajamas project take shape here within the colors. Expect dope remixes, and for this track to be a deep house crate-digger’s staple, because the original masquerade is bacchanal. ‘Carnival” succeeds as song on its own two legs, and I foresee the same on the dancefloor.
With pulsating, mid-tempo thump and a driving bass guitar line, “Under Siege” is at its core, a lover’s lament. Weinfield’s sensual story-telling is brought to life through Musengo’s soliciting verses. David Block trademark flourishes are raining glitch’d femme vocal tones; slowly he and Musengo mine an early 90’s Depeche Mode aesthetic. More grandiose strings bliss out the mix, and then a captivating vocal turn from Block collaborator Nadine Casanova (Calibri) propels the track to the stratosphere. Their final verse is a duet, mixed with sexy clipped vocals, all atop an patiently urgent, tantric groove.
“Here for a Moment” is the song that first set this project off, sending The Human Experience and Danny Musengo Gone Gone Beyond. A delectable chunk of post-rock, yet decidedly untraditional to the acreage; this is a centerpiece song that subtly suggests Brooklyn without claiming the soil either. The tune was culled from the borough’s original, free form live improvisational sessions that birthed this project, and continued to include recordings amid a single microphone in a noisy Brooklyn apartment (like a bathroom vocal “booth”, with a microphone duct taped to lamp as Musengo sat on the toilet). “Here for a Moment” is contemporary collage most interesting, reverberating shoegazer guitar as danceable drums underpins a Caribbean dreamscape. Trinidad’s steel pan virtuoso Victor Provost laces the cut, and somehow it’s this prodigious slab of folk-pop genius. Block is his usual shamanic self, but in a different paradigm; mix Musengo in melody and you have quirky accessibility; that -plus songs- is a recipe for success.
Ending the record with a gorgeous piano ballad bathing in strings and flutes; at once blissful and melancholy without overselling either. As such, Gone Gone Beyond is a fresh take on pop music, and at times a ballsy way to make dance music. It’s definitely folkie too, informed by New York but not exactly native to it either. It is story, it is landscape, it is anthem. Sharing top billing with Block is the (as advertised) charismatic Danny Musengo, who shines atop the bed of dynamic, organic live instrumentation and minimalist beats- music at once lush, and unadulterated. The entire endeavor is not so much a departure of sorts for David Block, as it is an undeniably human experience, one that is clearly going beyond.
Catch The Human Experience (with Danny Musengo) performing music from Gone Gone Beyond, as well as alter-ego Cats Pajamas, performing live at Envision Festival in Costa Rica, February 25-28. You can name your price and download the album via Bandcamp.