This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
Michal Menert first started with the Pretty Fantastics in 2015 and this past November, they debuted their first album as a band, From The Sea. Aside from Menert, the Fantastics consists of Richard “Sleepy” Floyd on drums and percussion, Nick Gerlach on sax, keys and flute, David Najarian with cuts and textures, Jules Thoma on vocals, keys and violin and Matt Van Den Heuvel on guitar, bass and keys. The album also features Bobby Young and Becca Gilliam on vocals, Russell Scott on piano, Jordan Polovina on cello, Matt Wilkolak on trumpet and Lauren Nierman on violin. It goes without saying that the album has a larger-than-life sound and each musician contributes a key element to the sound Menert had in mind while creating the 17-track LP.
As most know, Menert has contributed the Colorado music scene for quite some time, having first made major waves in 2004 by co-producing Pretty Lights‘ Taking Up Your Precious Time. Menert turned solo after the album’s release to pursue his own vision but remained on the Pretty Lights label. Since then, Menert has started his own label, Super Best Records. This album is his first since 2015 and fans are ready for something new to drool over.
“Our goal was to write an album as a unit, rather than remotely,” said Menert when starting the creation process. “The challenge with a band like this is primarily geographical, since, for the most part, none of us live in the same place. It began as an experiment to see if we could make something we all could get behind.” The album begins with the ominous intro of “The Rift” before jumping into a powerful rock-inspired “Horizon,” which is serving as a current stand-out track on the collection. It is the next track in line, “See You Again,” that breaks away from the dark undertones and pushes the listener into a funk frenzy.
“Diamonds In My Pocket” is the track that really assists in showcasing the large group’s talent as a whole. The vocals poured over the soothing dance beat creates a finished puzzle that exudes teamwork. “No one dominates,” explained Menert. “I wanted a band that felt like each song was theirs. No one holds on too tightly to a concept when it’s created, because we all believe that it can be amplified by the contributions of the other members.”
The album levitates its listener through a haunting beauty to a fixated funk. Especially the dreamy, tranquil vibe that comes from “All You Get” and the titular track, “From The Sea.” “I think the best songs, or the songs that resonate for me, walk that no man’s land between making you feel and making you move,” said Menert. “I try to make it like any story — there’s good, there’s bad, there’s uncertainty and fear but it’s approached in a hopeful and adventurous way.” The adventure in “Summer’s Gone” tells such a story, with lyrics like “summer’s gone, all the leaves have changed/something’s wrong, I see it in your face/time moves on, like a passing train.”
The tale of this project wraps up with the moving and sensual “Raindance,” which leaves a satisfying experience but also proves the group is sure to return with more to follow this recording. “It’s a testament to the incredible bond I’ve gained with these wonderful people over the course of its creation, and I’m beyond thrilled that people get to hear what my friends and I have poured our hearts into” Menert expressed about his band. “Thank you for reading and listening.”