Make no mistake: Austin Peralta, son of skateboarding legend Stacy Peralta, is a jazz musician. As such, it makes sense that Endless Planets, his debut album for Brainfeeder (the label run by Flying Lotus), is a jazz record. But this, according to FlyLo, is by design.
“This is a step in the direction of where I want Brainfeeder to go – true musicianship as well as some interesting electronics.”
Peralta, the 21-year-old pianist, who was introduced to FlyLo by Dr. Strangeloop (who is, not coincidentally, the producer for Endless Planets and offers electronic manipulation throughout the album – most notably between tracks), is no stranger to true musicianship. He has performed with Chick Corea, Hank Jones, Ron Carter, Erykah Badu and Shafiq Husayn, amongst others. And for his Brainfeeder debut, he teams up with Zane Musa (alto sax), Ben Wendel (tenor and soprano), Hamilton Price (bass) and Zach Harmon (drums).
The album starts with an “Introduction: The Lotus Flower”, which eases the listener into what will become a showcase of musicianship, but the relaxed vibe only lasts briefly. Both “Capricornus” and “The Underwater Mountain Odyssey” are filled with energy immediately; the up-tempo tracks demand your attention – as each musician takes turns in the spotlight. While it might appear that each instrument is fighting for attention, they do complement each other when taken as a whole – and with the steadying influence of Peralta’s deft work on the keys.
The frenetic energy manifests itself in a slightly different form on “Interlude”. Peralta’s keys, once again, form the backbone of the song – but both the bass and horn work also are noteworthy.
The album’s most FlyLo moment (for lack of a better term) comes on “Epilogue: Renaissance Bubbles” where Peralta teams up with The Cinematic Orchestra and vocalist Heidi Vogel, over a Dr. Strangeloop production. It’s a return to the slower, more relaxed vibe of the album’s opener – but it’s also a sign of the possibilities to come on future Brainfeeder releases.
Unfortunately, the closing track is both a gift and a curse for Peralta – it will be the silver lining for those not ready to embrace modern jazz, but more than willing to accept FlyLo’s musical stylings; but it will be a departure for those jazz fans who appreciated Peralta’s traditional leanings in the album’s first six tracks and don’t see the need for any electronic assistance.