Some genres have a stigma that make them instant turn offs for certain listeners, as sonically egalitarian as we all might wish to imagine we are. But stay with us for a minute, because although the Nick Valentini Collective may be classified as jazz fusion, that doesn’t fairly encapsulate the sounds this nascent octet creates. The Los Angeles group has been gaining praise for their beguiling amalgamation of indie rock, experimental psych music, and yes, jazz. One listen to their latest track, “Carousel”, and you’ll hear why they’ve been called the “jazz fusion Radiohead.”
The song opens as a dulcet folk number led by softly played piano and quivering harmonies. As Valentini delivers the verse’s poetic lyrics (“We’re always on a different side of a lover’s carousel”) in his airy vocals, a soulful edge reveals itself, something like Bon Iver covering Son Little. Once he begins singing the “goes around” refrain, however, the entire structure of the song shifts; a jazzy guitar solo launches like a rocket through the clatter of drums and strings, showing how fiercely surprising a “fusion” genre can really be.
“Carousel” is presented via its equally surprising and experimental video. A dancer watches as aspects of himself are literally pulled from his body, spinning above him in a colorful, tactile storm of self. Check it out below.