While a few 12-inches that Mike Katz had released as Harvey Sutherland garnered some buzz, it was when Danilo Plessow's MCDE label released Bermuda last year that his profile shot up considerably. And for good reason: the record showed Katz's graceful way in dancing between jazz-funk, disco and soulful house without sounding like mere homage.
For Bermuda's follow-up, Katz set up his own label, Clarity, and the live band Bermuda, a group that includes drummer Graeme Pogson and strings from Tamil Rogeon. There's also nine people credited with handclaps, and on "Priestess," their claps are put to the kind of stomping beat that François K used to psychedelicize with his early '80s dubs for Prelude. When he enters, Katz's sustained piano chords are tasteful and classic, still having ample space even as he introduces more synth lines. But it's when Rogeon's violin soars in near the five-minute mark and a fatter bassline drops that the track moves towards the kind of euphoric disco that Metro Area used to make.
The flip, which has more space in the groove, is just as satisfying. Rogeon's strings introduce "Bravado," redolent of Kelley Polar's work with Metro Area only more indebted to spiritual jazz. The hi-hats are crisp and the drums stomp while also allowing for a bit more swing. Katz's fat yet weightless ARP lines are reminiscent of Lonnie Liston Smith during his '70s heyday, sending the funk deeper and the track higher. The shimmering chords that echo through the final minute make for a lovely comedown.