With its 6th release, Dig Deep, The Motet once again proves that it is a group committed to exploring and pushing the sonic envelope, while still remaining dedicated to the musical traditions that have defined their sound. A heavy-horned afrobeat influence countered with a textural blanket of electronica, this album showcases the talents and strengths of the cast of characters that drummer and producer Dave Watts has assembled. Keyboardist Joey Porter lays down the funk under the coursing melodies of saxophonist Dominic Lalli in pure Motet fashion, with the ever-driving beats of Watts’ masterful rhythmic production pushing the music through sonic peaks and valleys that tantalize and invigorate listeners. If you’ve loved The Motet for years or are just tuning in, listen up. You won’t be disappointed.
The Motet is known for its revolving musicians and a breadth of musical influences, and Dig Deep plays to the strengths of many former and current members. Bassists Garrett Sayers and Paul McDaniel both shine brilliantly on Dig Deep, adding the sonic drive that is characteristic of The Motet’s sound, which has steadily morphed and evolved over the last ten years. Sayers’ bass solo on ‘Guru’ is a perfect example of his technical virtuosity, and with this, Watts as a producer has captured a quintessential Motet moment. The title track "Dig Deep" showcases another side of The Motet low-end, heavy-bass sound, with McDaniel laying down raw grooves in an open section that is peppered with Watts’ sonic explorations.
Longtime fans of The Motet will be happy to hear Jans Ingber’s voice on "Push," a track that was born from an improvisational moment during the band’s New Years 2009 show. Last featured on The Motet’s 2000 release Play, Beth Quist’s soaring vocals are highlighted on the Fela Kuti track "Kalakuta Show" and the tune "The Luxury of Doubt," a collaborative effort with Watts. Throughout Dig Deep, percussionist Scott Messersmith adds his signature textural rhythms, anchoring the evolutionary sound of the band in its Afro-Cuban and West African roots. His contributions are particularly salient in the afrobeat tunes "Mighty" and "Roforofo Fight." Guitarists Mike Tiernan and Zivanni Masango both add their talents on Dig Deep, as do Danny Sears on trumpet and John Stuart on baritone saxophone. With this mix of talented musicians contributing to the album, it is no wonder the album sounds as good as it does.
But at the helm is drummer Dave Watts, simultaneously embodying the roles of bandleader, musician, composer, and producer. It is Watts’ creative imagination that drives Dig Deep, mixing recorded and sampled tracks that seamlessly carry the music forward throughout the album. As a drummer, Watts has been called "the human metronome." His sense of timing and polyrhythmic understanding is what has made him a force in the live music scene for over twenty years.
Dig Deep is his most in-depth exploration into production work thus far. Watts has amply represented the layered electronica-funk vibe that has begun to characterize The Motet’s sound over the last few years, and he has truly "dug deep" to bring you Dig Deep.