Conclave: Conclave (Love Injection Records)
reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
Conclave is a musical collective under the wing of the multi-talented instrumentalist and vocalist Cesar Toribio. With his roots in the Dominican Republic and Florida, Toribio acquired a love of rhythm-based music through playing drums in church, studying jazz music in Boston, and garnering an appreciation of Afro and Latin-based rhythms.
The name ‘Conclave’ is an accurate identity for his aims, explained in the press release as an amalgamation: con (with) + clave (a unifying rhythm that holds the key to unlock dances both ancestral and contemporary).
What’s the music like?
Joyous. When thinking about dance and rhythm-based music it is so easy to take it for granted, to forget what an impact it can have on a community and how important it is to boosting moods in these difficult times. Cesar Toribio takes music back to those first principles, recognising the elemental feelings his music can provide, and because of that his self-titled album feels like a pure celebration of music. The album turns out to be as colourful as its cover.
To give some of the many highlights, the rich layers of There’s Enough are brightly coloured and enormously uplifting. Habla has a persuasive, swaying rhythm capped by a brilliant trumpet solo. Somehow All That I Need, featuring Sharin, is even better, with a winsome give and take between the two vocalists. Meanwhile Twice, while a little more introspective, features a squelchy bass and sun-drenched keys.
A soaring vocal takes Rise to the next level, while the much loved Perdón dazzles with its shimmering textures, a strong communal presence. The extended Alati Yeye Chege is hypnotic, while the album signs of with some irresistible, Todd Edwards-type funk on Take Heed (No Sunlight).
Does it all work?
Yes. The rhythms are gloriously instinctive, and production levels are just right so that the music has plenty of room to breathe, keeping its elements to the fore.
Is it recommended?
Heartily. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere who are mourning the loss of our summer, the occasional appearance of the sun should be soundtracked by this album. It may have been out for a couple of months but if you haven’t got it yet, you are encouraged to invest in some warmer musical weather. It will go far – and comparisons with Masters At Works’ Nu Yorican Soul offshoot are well-earned.