In the manner of “collectives” Steely Dan and Material, Helio Parallax has a core membership — multi-instrumentalist Josh Werner, trumpeter Takuya Nakamura, and dubbing/mixing specialist Marihito Ayabe — augmented by several guests. Also like Material — whose auteur Bill Laswell lends his studio wizardry here — Helio Parallax plays a potpourri of trip-hop, reggae, dub, jazz, and hip-hop, heavy on the grooves, here of the mostly mellow and mid-tempo variety.
There’s a fair amount of variety here, from the lovely near-ballad “City of Glass,” wherein Nakamura’s beautifully Miles Davis-like horn glides over gently throbbing bass, to the James Brown-tinged hard funk of “New Planet Old Sun” with Nakamura slathering some tasty muted trumpet dressing, to the shimmering trip-hop of “Soft Blind Pony Ride,” with a vocal by Bianca Casady (CoCoRosie), which could be (dare I say) a hit single. The swelling grandeur of “Frank’s Lament” evokes 1950s Hollywood panoramic movie scores (in CinemaScope!) with Doug Wieselman’s surging, John Coltrane-inspired saxophone tearing through, at first caressing then shattering the reverie. If you enjoy Laswell’s most eclectic productions, Morcheeba, and Massive Attack, Helio Parallax will satisfy your downtempo jones. (M.O.D. Technologies)