With just their second release, Mister Barrington (keyboardist/ vocalist Oli Rockberger, drummer Zach Danziger, and bassist Owen Biddle) has pulled ahead of the pack when it comes to the myriad musicians merging man and machine. That’s because each member is a first-call player fluent in improvisation and feel across numerous styles, each has a producer’s ear for sonics and song construction, and all three have the gift for musically melding the human and the electronic pulse.
The disc opening quasi-shuffle, “Only a Fool,” in which Biddle’s bass is seamlessly composited with synth bass; the new jack-nodding “See Your Face” (with Biddle stomping his Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synth pedal); and the old school “I Remember You” all summon Barrington’s signature song sound: Rockberger’s vocoder vocals delivering knockout hooks over the bionic brilliance below. Similarly, on the instrumental side, transcending throwback is the magic formula, as with the slap bass-led “PRG” (a play on the ’80s contempo jazz label, GRP) and “Frank’s Drebin,” which recalls early-’70s Billy Cobham, thanks to Danziger’s dazzling drum work. The experimentalism reaches an extreme on “Helter’s Kelter,” where Biddle’s ten tracks of bass ideas are pruned to perfectly-panned peak-outs; the oozy “Landing,” with Owen unleashing free-flowing fills in his trademark R&B/Roots style; and the deep, 6-string throb of “Rawzz.” Who knew futurism could groove so hard?