At its core, Rhythmic Fuzz’s self-titled album is a reggae hip-hop album. But within this umbrella are elements that nudge it in a direction away from standard fare dub albums. These factors are the product of the creatively diverse members of the band who come from very different musical places. Brothers Kohl and Lucas Wingfield (bass and drums) are in one of Greeley’s more prolific metal bands, A Sonnet to Silence, and lead guitarist John Nolan played in the local favorite jam band Bovine Green. Michael “Big Guppy” Parker has been rapping since he was in the 8th grade and rhythm guitarist and vocalist Patrick Breyer’s rock outfit This Side of Paradise has a strong following in the area. Together, over several years, Rhythmic Fuzz has been a means to bridge these very different talents into a project that has become a pillar to the to the Greeley music scene.
While his reggae inspirations are obvious, Parker’s work as a lyricist rooted in the live band makes the album less fuzz and more rhythmic. Parker’s style is reminiscent of Nas and Mos Def, and his lyrical content is less about hip-hop tropes and more about playing with language and turning phrases. The most noticeable theme to the songs appears to be a certain recently decriminalized recreational activity, but the band does dip their wick into social commentary from time to time, most notably on the opening track “French Jones.” Ultimately, for the rest of the album, that commentary is lost in the same haze of bong smoke I’m sure the album was written, recorded, and performed in.
Breyer’s voice shines on this album with a surprising fullness that shows from the first track that this is not going to be just another reggae album. Breyer brings a raw sultriness that is accented by backing vocalist Lauren Kumpf. Although the two work well together on the tracks Kumpf is featured on, there are parts that come off somewhat forced. This, however, is the problem that lies at the core of the whole album. With so many different styles being represented on Rhythmic Fuzz, the album struggles to find a central sound that truly describes the band.
There are glimmers of this tonal center found throughout the album, particularly on “French Jones,” “Voice,” and “Rude Boy.” This is not to say the other songs are not without their merit though, as “She Reminds Me” is an ode to the music that inspired Parker, and features a guest spot from Blaque Plaque the Plague. The use of a live band to perform a tribute to hip-hop creates a dichotomy that is both pleasant and appropriate. Lucas and Kohl Wingfield groove on this track that highlights their abilities as the rhythm section and their comfort shifting gears into something new.
Overall, Rhythmic Fuzz is a brave and positive move for the band. Recorded at Silo Studios in Denver, the tracks are polished and of good quality. With solid recordings under their belt, the band is in a good place to move beyond their usual venues. “I think the album is a great step forward and a great starting point for us. We still have a lot of learning and a lot of growing to do and I’m hoping these recordings will allow us to play more shows out of town and get our name out there,” says lead guitarist John Nolan, recognizing the potential for the future for the band.