The live album. It’s a part of a band’s catalog that can give you some real insight into what makes a band tick. Hearing a piece of what musicians sound like in person is an opportunity to delve into their character and see what they are capable of without the safety of a studio. I personally find that seeing a band live is the essential indication of whether a band is full of great musicians that are worth following or if they aren’t worth my time. A live album can also give you a chance to hear your favourite tunes reinterpreted for the stage. Today I am writing about a band who was introduced to me via live album, and since they hail from California this is the probably the closest I will get to seeing them live. Boostive’s new live album, Live at Kuumbwa, is a perfect introduction that manages to meld a wide range of genres into a deep, cohesive groove.
It kicks off with an atmospheric pairing of guitar and flute, easing the listener in before the drummer drops a hip-hop beat and the bass lays down its anchor. A soulful, female voice offers the first of her many melodies that are interspersed throughout the performance. A trombone closes the first track on a jazzy note with a slow, bending solo, before the intro comes to a close with the familiar echo of dub. The palette established in “Dream” establishes the core sound that will serve as a platform for various hip-hop artists and instrumental soloists.
Boostive is not a band that is rushing to carry you off somewhere. The slow, resounding dub groove is something to slowly sink into, and once you are deep in that water you’ll feel it. Whether Boostive pulls their sound in a jazzier direction with their horns, hip-hop or soul with their vocalists, or some definitive reggae guitar, they make sure to keep the ride smooth and steady.
If I have one criticism of Live at Kuumbwa it’s that whether the band is leaning more heavily on one genre than another, every song on the album has a somewhat similar vibe. I would love to see this band really take something in a different direction to give the album a little more diversity, but Boostive does a great job of getting the audience into a groove and sticking with it.