“Introvert”, the first side of Scizzorman’s latest release Schizophonic, opens with the track “21st Century Clan”. The track’s spoken word introduction segues into a clean funk groove highlighted by a tight relationship between the bass and Terry Vinci’s drumming. The brittle slash of guitar fills punctuates the arrangement before the vocals begin. There’s a near spoken word quality to the delivery and this approach benefits the lyrical content while retaining a musical quality. The arrangement is free-ranging and never confines itself to a single tempo – the band’s four musicians prove in less than four minutes there’s little they cannot do and the sinewy evolution of this performance will be a revelation for many listeners. The final quarter of the track has evocative keyboards adding further color to the mix.
“Souls of the Past” has a different slant than the opener and, for first time listeners to the band, it illustrates their diversity when taken with “21st Century Clan”. They dispense with the funk in favor of a synth dominated arrangement. The track begins at a rather languid pace but builds more and more energy as it progresses without ever feeling rushed. The production for Schizophonic, likely supervised by Vinci and his son/band mate Adrian Vinci, is one of the album’s strengths and few songs reflect this better than “Souls of the Past”.
The final song on Side A, “Giants”, alternates between herky-jerky funk interspersed with atmospheric synthesizer driven passages provided by keyboardist Dorothy Helfgott. The rhythm section of Terry Vinci and Cody Robson, who also doubles on guitar for the release, provides the funk sections of the track with inspired and spot on playing. “Skin” opens the “Outrovert” side of the release with one of the album’s indisputable highlights. The brevity of the song’s lyrics helps make its message/point clear for listeners and they resist their traditional wont for taking the tune to unexpected places in favor of delivering one of the more straightforward arrangements on the release.
“Homoblivion” will be a favorite for many. The dystopian point of view presiding over many of Schizophonic’s songs reaches a zenith of sorts with this bass and vocals focused recording. The bass playing is as lively as ever but, carrying the song’s musical direction with its lack of accompanying instruments, Scizzorman pulls out all of the necessary stops to make this a fulfilling track for listeners. “The Mercy Mix” revisits album opener “21st Century Clan” but develops its own musical path. It’s the album’s longest track but still comes in at less than five minutes long. It’s a testament to their talents that Scizzorman can consistently produce such condensed material while still invoking an universe of sound and musicality in a limited frame.
The closer “Generation Wrap” is the album’s sole instrumental and a surprising way to conclude the album. It is fitting, however, and provides final evidence for the band’s instrumental talents. Despite the lack of vocals or lyrics, it comes close to matching the earlier “Skin” as the album’s most accessible moment and closes the release with the same intelligence and easygoing sophistication embodying their songwriting as a whole. Scizzorman’s Schizophonic is one of 2019’s more inventive releases and demands your attention.