Flirting with prog, teasing at pop, intimately engaged with jazz, infused with soul, textured with funk, ultimately ending with a genuine rock song, the project manages to preserve an artistic flow…
Sounds From Above
Vertical Jam Records
16 tracks / 66:12
Chocolate and cheese might be the first things you think about when someone mentions Switzerland, but you might want to get used to the name Heimlicher as well. Like Swiss gospel funkmeister Vlada before him, Matthias Heimlicher brings an infectious mix of funk, jazz, gospel, rock and soul with his new release, Sounds From Above. Heimlicher is a talented multi-instrumentalist/singer/arranger/songwriter/producer - and Sounds From Above is a generous hour-plus of sophisticated yet viscerally-compelling music designed to reach body, mind, and spirit.
Hard to categorize, but flirting with progressive rock, teasing at pop, getting pretty intimately engaged with jazz, infused with soul, textured with funk, and ultimately capping it off with a genuine rock song, the project manages to maintain a continuity and preserves an artistic flow. Starting off with the cinematic-sounding orchestral piece, “Sounds,” the album moves to the AOR/soft prog of “Way More,” the song that introduces us to Heimlicher’s vocals and the Steely Dan level of sophistication and musicianship that we’ll hear throughout.
Once again I’m reminded of the ahead-of-his-time CCM artist Eric Champion as we get to the third track, “Welcome,” - a funky pop song with hot Hammond work by Heimlicher and a nice, nasty guitar solo toward the end. By this time we figure out that Heimlicher has laid a groundwork for an experience that will take us on a musical journey full of raised expectations. The jazzy funk rock and exceptional guitar work on “For the Day” confirms the fact that the preceding songs were not just flukes, but that something with musical and lyrically spiritual integrity is going on with Sounds From Above.
With Heimlicher as the core, and a collection of excellent ‘guest’ players, the music is hot. American listeners might take a little repeated listening before the slight accent ‘goes away,’ but the artist is an excellent vocalist with good ‘soul’ phrasing and a great ear for arrangements. On “Up and Running” and “Wider” you’d swear that someone cloned Take 6, Heimlicher’s obvious inspiration on the background vocals. “Time Now” is worth the price of the album if only for the keyboards (Heimlicher) and guitar work (Alex Hutchings and Lothar Kosse), especially on the outro at the end – if you’re like me, you’d welcome another five minutes of that absolutely cooking jam.
There are lush moments, ballads, funky songs, and generally great playing through the entirety of Sounds From Above, and the lyrical content is spiritually strong without resorting to cliché phrases (it might be worth noting for some, that there’s one expletive found in the lyrics of the last track, pretty much in the spirit that the Apostle Paul might have used).
A word about the packaging – Sounds From Above comes in a sturdy slipcase and contains a bound, hard-cover booklet with lyrics, photos, and credits enough to send a credits-freak like me into ecstasy. Matthias obviously put much thought and care into the package
Without a doubt, Sounds From Above is a gospel album in that it’s about God’s work in the artist and the artist’s expression of spiritual issues, but it would be a mistake to mentally pre-judge the musical content to fit into any narrow genre. Matthias Heimlicher has set out to produce music with integrity and without debt to any particular stylistic boundaries. Biblically speaking, this is ‘a new song.’ It might be the old, old story but told in a fresh way. If you’re looking for some fresh new sounds sprinkled with jazz, funk, rock, and soul and plenty of sophistication, look up Matthias Heimlicher – he’s got some Sounds From Above that will reach you right here and now.