Alton Miller: Full Circle

Since 1991, Alton Miller has issued more than a hundred recordings on Serious Grooves, Peacefrog, R2 Records, Octave Lab, and others, and now brings that wealth of experience to Yore. In fact, Full Circle comes closest to distilling Yore's credo into sound, given the label's emphasis on authentic, old-school House and Techno. Miller's sound? Imagine a more tightly-focused Cobblestone Jazz with a preference for polished song structures and soulful vocals in place of jams.

In “Time Waits,” a bright flute glides over a swaying Latin-funk pulse spiced with congas and shakers, after which a soulful male voice intones the ‘60s-styled plea “Open our eyes to see / Surely, truly, love is all we need.” Here and elsewhere, Miller's lyrics sound like they've come from the pen of your neighborhood hippie relic but they're generally easy to overlook when the music is so captivating. He gives the material lots of room to stretch out (each A-side track is in the eight-minute range while the B is almost fourteen) without letting it lapse into aimlessness. Driving tech-house rhythms anchor “Way of the Drum” and the epic “Song for Beatriz” and, powered by a funky backbeat pulse and timbales, the latter stokes an entrancing Latin-jazz swing amidst Rhodes flourishes, smooth “da-da-da-da-daaahs,” and an extended Moog solo that Miller conceivably could have exhumed from some lost ‘70s jazz-fusion classic. The rich material on Full Circle is so old-school, it makes recent releases by fellow Yore artists Rick Wade and Terrence Dixon sound positively 23rd-century by comparison.

April 2008