Free Creatures is a harmonious chimera, fostered in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest and ready to unleash its folk-hip-hop in California. The trio starts with beats, vintage samples and conscious lyrics from Marv Ellis. It’s then layered with jazz-inspired upright bass, trumpet and sultry vocals from Emily Turner and topped off with psychedelic jam-rock ala guitarist Skylar Squglio.
Throw in the mix an occasional guest emcee, a percussionist and a heavy dose of live improvisation, and the dance floor inevitably fills up.
They recently debuted their first album All the Things, a collection of hip-hop beats and samples over-dubbed with live instruments, then layered with vocal harmonies. Akin to alternative hip-hop such as A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5 and the Fugees, they can also delve into realms touched by A Thievery Corporation, Zero 7 or Nightmares on Wax.
Pounding bass and funky clavinet open the introductory track “Free Creatures” before Turner’s vocals build into the anthem’s initial chorus, “Deep down just a free creature/ Just a free creature for a good reason.”
Touches of reggae and Latin jazz grace the melodic leading bass and punchy, driving beat behind the foreboding lyrics of “Tall Horse.” The closing track, “1 Z,” is a psychedelic seven-minute dance jam that explores a range of rhythms and soundscapes.
The left-handed-Squglio’s musical upbringing is rooted in improv and jamming: “I studied music at college, but they couldn’t teach me to play because I play a right-handed guitar upside down.”
Setting the bar on the Feb. 28 show at Pearl Hour is The BASSment, powered by singer/rapper Hanif Wondir, drummer/bandleader Justin Horrell and a crew of wizard-level musicians. They bring original, funky hip-hop and soul music. Also joining Free Creatures is New York hip-hop Artist Felix Free.
FREE CREATURES 9pm Friday, Feb. 28. Pearl Hour, 214 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. No cover; 21+. 657-9447, freecreaturesmusic.com