“Death or Devotion”

Motet cover art


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CD Review

“Death or Devotion”

The Motet

The opening notes of the first track on the new Motet album drop you straight into a classic blaxploitation film with a bass line reminiscent of “Shaft.” Take a look at the psychedelic rainbow of curves on the album cover. The 1970s vibe is no accident.

Denver’s Motet has been funking up its home state since 1998, but the group has rarely sounded as groovy or cinematic as on “Death or Devotion.”

Or as urgent.

The guys in this funk and soul band said the record was partly inspired by their efforts to register new voters before the 2018 elections. But you won’t hear direct references to politicians or issues here. They are still focused on the groove and the good times.

“My only medicine is you and a dance floor,” sings Lyle Divinsky on the disco-flavored track “Contagious.”

“Death or Devotion” is the band’s ninth album, but it also is something of a rebirth. It is the first record with trumpeter Parris Fleming, and only the second record with Lyle behind the microphone and Drew Sayers on saxophone. The new seven-piece lineup draws on a wider array of influences that takes them into new musical territory while maintaining an inescapable and irresistible funk groove.

Divinsky said the band’s goal is unity through funk — or one nation under a groove, as another funk band once famously sang.

“Our goal is for you to recognize we’re all dancing on the same dance floor — even though our steps may look a little different,” Divinsky said.

The Motet is currently on a national tour, and returns to Colorado on July 12 for a co-headlining date with Galactic at Red Rocks.

— Steve Graham

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