Home Read Albums Of The Week: Garage A Trois | Calm Down Cologne EP

Albums Of The Week: Garage A Trois | Calm Down Cologne EP

Charlie Hunter's jazz-funk power trio are back in the groove on this reunion outing.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Garage A Trois return in the form from which they were born 22 years earlier on their new studio album Calm Down Cologne.

Co-starring guitarist Charlie Hunter, saxophonist Skerik and drummer Stanton Moore, OG GAT released their debut album Mysteryfunk to wide acclaim in 1999. The band evolved over the pursuant years in various configurations before eventually going on hiatus following its 2015 album Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil. In 2019, however, the original three-piece lineup reunited for a handful of shows. This would also result in an afternoon spent recording at Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard’s Studio Litho in Seattle, right across the street from where the band was playing a sold-out three-night run at Nectar Lounge. Ace engineer Randall Dunn was invited to document the proceedings and captured the resulting album in one magical session. Dunn would take the tracks back to AVAST! Recording Co. for mixing. With all but a few edits on beginnings and ends of performances, Calm Down Cologne presents the music as it was played in the studio that day.

A high-stepping mind/body elixir, Calm Down Cologne finds Garage A Trois in full improvisational flight, composing live, in the moment, on the studio floor. Hunter on the Hybrid Big6 and Moore on the drums and cymbals are locked in a mountainous groove throughout. Simultaneously, Skerik conjures the melodic lines with one hand on the saxophone and the other on a clutch of analog keys: Modal 001 synth, Rhodes 54 and Mellotron, among them. The jaunty title track is the only pre-composed piece on the collection, while Seattle singer Christa Wells adds the LP’s sole overdub — a Stereolab-inspired vocal matching the sax/keys line on the aptly titled The Epic.

Set opener No Zone finds OG GAT channeling Stuff with Eddie Harris sitting in. The outcome is electrifying. The album’s centerpiece, the massive In-A-Pro-Pro, stretches 10-plus minutes as it checks a number of vital boxes for which Garage A Trois are celebrated: Stone cold funk, outer-space breakbeats, ‘70s On The Corner guitar grease. Ever the masters of shapeshifting, OG GAT seamlessly reconfigure course on Numinous, a dubbed-out descent that winds down the record.

As for the rather curious album title, the story goes that legendary underground Seattle artist Rick Klu gave Skerik the idea when he was describing a bouncer having to use some ‘calm down cologne’ on an unruly patron. More metaphorically speaking, a whiff of Garage A Trois’ new magic potion elicits a “free your mind and your ass will follow” response — truly a much-needed balm in these anxiety-ridden times.”