3 is the magic number: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio.
3 is the magic number: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio. Courtesy Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio | Photo by Lisa Hagen Glynn

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, “Fried Soul” (Colemine). The encouraging rise of Seattle's Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio proves that even at this late date, old-school instrumental funk can move asses in masses large enough to make major waves in the retail and radio realms. The success of 2021's I Told You So and the new Cold as Weiss albums testifies to the enduring appeal of the greasy grooves and disciplined virtuosity of Booker T. & the MGs, the Meters, Bar-Kays, and others of their ilk. DLO3 prove that back-to-basics moves don't have to sound cobwebbed and reeking of the museum, but rather can thrum with vitality. Maybe this uptick in DLO3's fortunes results from the realization that much of classic hip-hop slapped so hard thanks to samples of music ingrained in their rehabilitation of funk fundamentals. Whatever the case, these local badasses have captured the magic of tight, lubricious rhythms and judicious keyboard/guitar embroidery and presented it appealingly for modern ears.

The non-LP B-side of DLO3's new single for the robust Colemine label, “Fried Soul” does not deviate from the group's tried-and-true style; why mess with a formula as righteous as this? The midtempo cut struts with Stax-y funk and soul, as Lamarr's organ, Jimmy James's guitar, and Dan Weiss's drums cohere into a single-minded organism that exudes streamlined cool. Even heard in your measly earbuds, this song will inflate your confidence and stimulate your limbs with ruthless efficiency. (The A-side, “Cold as Weiss,” also isn't on the album of the same name, making this 45 a great value. It doesn't hurt that its militarily precise funk makes the JBs sound slack.)

Thomas Andrew Doyle, “Pillars of Creation” (Incineration Ceremony). The transformation of Thomas Andrew Doyle as hedonistic leader of grunge warriors TAD and doom-metal band Brothers of the Sonic Cloth to his current status as production magus and composer of profound drone symphonies is one for the history books. He's replaced bull-in-a-china-shop rambunctiousness for ominous atmosphere-mongering, swapped music for 12 beers for music of the spheres. Whereas he once toiled for Sub Pop during the Seattle label's supernova era, Doyle now sounds as if he's trying to get a deal with Deutsche Grammophon or land a soundtrack gig with the late Andrei Tarkovski. You can call that “maturing,” but I prefer to think of Doyle's creative metamorphosis as “evolving,” and in a most unexpected way.

Doyle's latest meisterwerk, Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. II, finds the former electric guitarist and lead growler playing several soft-synthesizers, a Korg Trident Mark II analog synth, acoustic guitar, and using his voice as an instrument (along with his wife Peggy). The eventful, portentous spacescapes here make one wish Stanley Kubrick were still alive to direct a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, so he could use these pieces. I don't say this lightly, but this album's “KU775a” pretty much out-frights György Ligeti's Lux Aeterna. “Entrusted with Emptiness” is another fraught trip through pitiless desolation, turning Tangerine Dream into a Pomegranate Nightmare.

But the album's most stunning track is “Pillars of Creation.” It begins with seething synth thrums and anguished circuit frying, then intensifies and ascends to an infernal vortex of aerated drone the likes of which I've rarely heard in my many decades of drone appreciation. The song gradually tapers to a pathos-laden fade-out that sounds like the last hymn you hear as your spaceship plummets in an infinite death spiral.

Given the aural breadth and emotional potency of Experiments of the Spectral Order Vol. II, it's odd that Hollywood directors aren't knocking down the door at Doyle's Witch Ape Studio for his massive sonic storm systems. Maybe he needs Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe's agent.