LISTEN: Cincinnati musicians compellingly explore Electronic music as FLOCKS

Local (mostly) instrumental trio celebrates recent self-titled album debut with a show Thursday at Northside Tavern.

May 29, 2018 at 11:06 am

click to enlarge FLOCKS - Photo: Brooke Shanesy
Photo: Brooke Shanesy
Three top-notch Cincinnati musicians have joined forces to explore and experiment with sound at the crossroads of Electronic music, Jazz and other styles, and the fusionary results make for an exhilarating and provocative listen. Among many others, the players have worked with the likes of Hi-Tek, Mark Mothersbaugh and Fareed Haque, as well as members of WHY? and Deerhoof, which gives a good starting point for understanding the project’s unique sonic mélange. 

Known as FLOCKS, Tom Buckley (drums/samples), Joshua Jessen (synths/keyboards) and Stephen Patota (bass/guitar) released their engaging self-titled album in early May; it’s available now through Spotify, Soundcloud (, Bandcamp ( and other sites and services.

FLOCKS is a piece of digital art crafted with an analog mindset, with not only jazzy elements within the tracks’ structures, but also a Jazz-like mentality driving the proceedings, showcasing both fluid, improv-like movement and a sturdy compositional base. While Electronic music is often stigmatized as cold and rigid, in FLOCKS’s world, the musicians give it a vibrant sense of humanity — the music sounds “played” and not merely “initiated” with a button. Buckley’s magnificent drum work, in particular, is a constant reminder that there are actual humans behind every note in the soundscaping.

The album’s journey moves gracefully from the Neo-Soul Jazz of “Panoramic” to the roiling, progressive, Hip Hop-adjacent atmospherics of “Mouthful” to bass-heavy live-Electronica workouts like “You’re Still Young.” Though largely instrumental, the trio craftily works voices into the mesmerizing layers on some songs. Sampled dialog is embedded in tracks like album opener “When You Appear, Everything Will Be,” while the standout “Cold” features the jazzily colorful rhymes and lyrics of Eric Rollin, the front-person for Columbus, Ohio-based Hip Hop/Funk/Soul outfit Mistar Anderson.

This Thursday, FLOCKS celebrates the release of their debut with a show at Northside Tavern (4163 Hamilton Ave., Northside, Mistar Anderson opens the free show at 9 p.m.

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