The work of Chattanooga quintet Masseuse is steeped in the biography of musical fusion, aiming to build an aesthetic that doesn’t lay roots in any individual genre but has the ability to see past these often arbitrary borders. They blend pop, jazz, rock and funk into an affecting brew of complicated rhythmic passages, pop exploration and progressive funk foundations. They’ve honed these particular inclinations over the years, recording in various studios and while spending time sharing stages with artists like Perpetual Groove, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Dopapod and Keller Williams.
Home to singer-guitarist Ross Lenenski, singer-cellist Ben Van Winkle, guitarist Alex Keiss, bassist Kellen Shiles and drummer Jeff McSpadden, the band revels in the diversity of its members’ musical histories. And it’s in service to these wide-ranging lineages that they concoct songs which play to the amalgamated creativities of each individual musician. No single person is given authority over the others—Masseuse is a collaborative venture, one which will find its debut record coming in the form of “Ambidextrous” on March 10. They’ll be hosting a release party at Songbirds Guitar Museum (formerly Revelry Room).
For a taste of what’s to come, the band has shared a new single called “Scenic Parkway,” a 7-minute beast of a song that interweaves jazzy rhythms, gossamer pop melodies and groove-filled beats. There’s some wobbly bass slinking around in the background as the guitars shake and shine alongside some fluid cello lines and a collection of undeniably smooth vocal harmonies. The song is a platform for each member to step into the light for a time, revealing the full makeup of their communal and massive influences.
And even at 7 minutes, the song feels like it breezes by in a rush—there’s no wasted space, which is certainly saying something given its length. Before you know it, the track is over, and you’re left feeling invigorated by its intricate nature. It possesses both a passive and involving personality. There are moments when you simply want to lay back and become enveloped in its atmosphere, and at other times, you want to pick apart specific moments to see what rests behind the arrangements. It’s universal in its insight but insular in its execution, producing a song that leaves a lasting and well-earned impression.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.