House distills the work of a full disco band into a few machines, but recent years have seen some groups balloon outwards in size. With his Harvey Sutherland And Bermuda project, Mike Katz has been one of this trend's main proponents, and his music is funkier for it. Tracks like "Bermuda" and "Priestess" took the harmonic touch of his more sequenced earlier work and loosened things up with live instrumentation. The results were infectious.
But the extended runtime on Expectations, which is almost as long as an album, becomes a liability. There's production prowess and musicianship in its six tracks, but where Katz's early work layered motifs into controlled and irresistible forms, much of Expectations feels listless. The electric piano, sweeping strings and tight rhythm of "Clarity" and "Expectations" gesture toward funk, but don't embody it. All elements are perfectly consonant and well timed, but they don't progress from what's established in their opening minutes. "Spiders" draws from the same palette as spiritual, jazz-inflected fusion of the 1970s, but with little direction outside of its Rhodes—it falls short of the revelatory promise of its forebears.
"Coast 2 Coast" is the standout track. It has the playful chords and allure of "Bermuda," growing into a beautiful crescendo of at least five melodic elements. Its greatest charm, though, is a small detail: a pristine clap whose creators also supplied percussion on Priestess / Bravado.