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CD sends Flowmotion in a different motion

Fri., April 9, 2010

It was supposed to be quick.

Get in. Play the set. Get out.

When the members of Flowmotion recorded their new album they did so in one long set, instead of tracking it song by song.

The result was better than expected, so the cross-genre quintet ended up spending a year fine-tuning what eventually became its fifth album, “Ghost Pepper.”

It will be featured in a CD release party Saturday night at the Knitting Factory Concert House.

A Seattle-based melodic rock band with Spokane roots, Flowmotion is taking new turns on its latest self-released studio set, which was recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Scott Colburn (Arcade Fire, Animal Collective).

“When they said they wanted to track 10 songs in one day, I laughed. I laughed hard!” Colburn states in the band’s bio.

“They came in, we set up and they played the set the first time through. My jaw was on the floor.”

In addition to songs written by the band’s leader, singer/guitarist Josh Clauson, “Ghost Pepper” includes contributions from newish guitarist RL Heyer, percussionist Bob Rees and drummer Scott Goodwin. Previous releases were scripted mainly by Clauson.

While the differences aren’t pronounced, the songs on the album reflect various aspects of the supporting songwriting cast.

Rees’ songs tend to reveal his jazz background, incorporating odd time signatures into familiar grooves. Heyer’s tunes are more rock ’n’ roll. Goodwin’s strength is lyrics. Clauson is the most Americana.

Add bassist Eric Bryson to the mix and Flowmotion combines elements of rock, jazz, funk, reggae, bluegrass and classic rock.

This time around, it’s a tighter package of relatively shorter songs.

“The songs are more focused. It’s not that we don’t jam but we wanted to write four- or five-minute songs, and not 18-minute songs, unless it’s needed,” Rees said during a telephone interview.

“Older fans are up in arms about it but new fans who don’t know the old stuff embrace it.”

Spokane natives Rees and Goodwin played in The BeeCraft, a jazz-rock band that was popular in Spokane’s club scene during the 1990s. They joined Flowmotion after The BeeCraft relocated to Seattle, during a time when both bands were going through lineup changes.

Since then Flowmotion has continued to build its grassroots following up and down the West Coast, growing its own annual music festival, which has played a key part in expanding the band’s network.

Now in its 10th year, Flowmotion’s Summer Meltdown Festival drew a crowd of 4,000 to an outdoor amphitheater at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains last year.

“It started with 50 people in a backyard in the San Juan Islands,” Rees said. “We get to headline our own festival and that’s really cool.

“It’s hard to get on festivals and this opens up opportunities for agents, bands and managers. It’s great networking for us to be able to trade shows in markets we need to get to.”

The opening act for Saturday’s show is Portland’s Vaudeville-esque, brass-samba-funk-Afro-beat outfit the March Fourth Marching Band.

It’s a spectacle comprised of upwards of 40 players, some of them on stilts, others performing acrobatics, all of them playing instruments.


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