Posted on May 30th, 2013 (8:30 am) by Ben Welton

What, my friends, are we supposed to do with Tone of Arc? Far from being a mess on our greedy hands, the duo from the Barbarous Coast make more sense than a first glance over would lead one to believe. According to the group’s Facebook page, Tone of Arc incorporate everything from deep house to so-called “nu disco.” Whether or not “nu disco” bills itself with the necessary umlaut is of little importance right now. What is important, however, is the genre-bending and the additional sense of play Tone of Arc bring to their newest release, which is cryptically called The Time Was Right.

When? What is this time you speak of, Derrick Boyd and Zoe Presnick? These are not rhetorical questions — inquiring minds and musical peepers want to know! The Time Was Right, which blends so many genres and sounds together, it ultimately makes a concoction only appropriate for the twenty-first century, while its deep media and cultural saturation seems decidedly hip. Maybe Tone of Arc want us to focus on the retro elements in their latest full-length, so let’s start there.

The second track on The Time Was Right, which goes by the name of “Love Kissed,” begins with a bass line that must have been born around the same time Shaft debuted on the silver screen. “Love Kissed” is richly funky and undeniably sexy. Derrick Boyd’s ability to lazily murmur over an electro funk synthesizer line is not only commendable, but it should be observed as the guiding principle of “Love Kissed,” one of the many stand-out tracks on The Time Was Right. And when Boyd is briefly joined by Presnick on “Love Kissed,” the sexual tension quickly escalates to a point wherein neither Boyd nor Presnick has time for talking. “Love Kissed” moves on without them and allows the vintage electro funk to continue on with its own unique magic.

Speaking of throwback matters, Tone of Arc saw fit to cover a song from the late ‘80s on The Time Was Right. This particular cover is most famous for a flying V of sorts. No, we are not talking here about either K.K. Downing or Coach Gordon Bombay’s brave quackers. We are speaking of James “Buffalo Bill,” or Grub’s disturbing shimmy in Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs. That’s right: The Time Was Right contains a cover of Q Lazzarus’s “Goodbye Horses.” Tone of Arc’s version is faithful to the original, and even their video, which casts Boyd in the role of a sexual predator à la Buffalo Bill, contains the requisite shot of Boyd’s rendition of the mangina dance.

Are you still there? I promise this is as gross or titillating as The Time Was Right gets. For the most part, The Time Was Right is a groovy, boogie woogie hullabaloo of intricate dance music. True, there are moments that do stand out, but The Time Was Right mostly allows the nonstop party to keep on not stopping. One of the more illuminating passages — “Chalk Hill” — is primarily visible because it draws parallels with one of the world’s greatest bands — The Clash. “Chalk Hill” has the same funk feel and punk attitude as any testament on Sandinista!, The Clash’s epic display of funk punk politics. Staying on this theme, the album’s opening track, “Surrender,” showcases an interesting vibraphone line that makes one immediately remember Edwyn Collins’s lone radio hit, “A Girl Like You.” “A Girl Like You” and “Surrender” are not similar songs, and Tone of Arc’s emphasis on a vigorous low end makes the differences all the more clear.

So, now that we’ve come this far, let’s end it all with a sort of high-flown discussion. It seems to me that what gets considered “great” or of extraordinary significance depends upon how much whatever it is in question represents a journey. This is why epics are eternal. Unlike most dance music recordings, The Time Was Right is long (it clocks in at over fifty-five minutes). Usually speaking, dance music releases tend to keep things short because their obsequious devotion to futurism is prone to repetition. Tone of Arc, who are less guilty of redundancy, have the ability to be a little more expansive in their sonic experiments. The Time Was Right is such an experiment, and it works well because Tone of Arc seem dead-set on exploring the many avenues of dance music. While The Time Was Right does not exhaust all of these avenues, the constant traveling of Tone of Arc renders The Time Was Right as a record free from boredom. Accordingly, if you believe the groove is indeed in the heart, then the hour is come for The Time Was Right.

Track List:
1. Surrender
2. Love Kissed
3. Chalk Hill
4. Lost in the Machine
5. Where You Belong
6. Goodbye Horses
7. People at the Door
8. The Time Was Right
9. Hardly Standing
10. Sound Sail
11. Left Field

Tone of Arc's "The Time Was Right"
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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75 / 100
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