It’s been a big era for jazz of all varieties, but if you’re in love with the sort of grooves that give you chills within seconds of playing a song for the very first time, Louis Siciliano is the man to see this February. His EP Ancient Cosmic Truth is the sleeper hit sensation of the season, and while it’s not the first occasion on which he’s demonstrated a talent for hitting epic rhythms out of the park, this might be the most complete and well-rounded piece he’s submitted to date. There’s no stopping this man when he gets into a good melody, and Ancient Cosmic Truth highlights this without fail.
Siciliano doesn’t want to dominate the room with a big presence courtesy of the band – he’s taking the rhythm of the music into his own hands and making sure that we’re always swaying to every beat initiated from beneath the basslines. He’s an amazingly gifted arranger, but his style never sounds cocky in a hook – actually, I think he gives off a vulnerability when we reach the fever pitch of “Ancient Cosmic Truth” that speaks to his abilities as a songwriter to connect with the audience.
The melodic delivery Siciliano is giving us in “Translucent Dodecahedron” and “The Secret of Mansa” really smashed me in the gut when I listened to this record all the way through, and the fact that he isn’t afraid to leave the hooks alone goes a long way with me as a critic. He’s not leaning on instrumental bells and whistles to make his story tangible to the listener; his heart is in this music, and that would be obvious whether you’re listening to his material for the first time today or had been following him since his very first recording. The word immersive comes to mind a lot in this piece, which isn’t the standard in jazz anymore.
As far as production quality goes, Ancient Cosmic Truth is polished and well-rounded for what we’re listening to, given the barebones stylization of the master mix. Siciliano’s execution is part of why I think everything feels as solid as it does from top to bottom, but without the post-recording mix being as tight as it is around “Bambara’s Symmetries,” I can’t say that I would find it as radio-ready as I do in the incarnation we find it in here. This is a thoughtful artist, and you needn’t hear more than this EP to know as much.
Listeners who want a sexy time via the stereo in 2023 can count on Louis Siciliano to bring the goods this month and beyond in Ancient Cosmic Truth, and it would surprise me a great deal if I were the only critic to be saying as much right now. Siciliano has the personality of a superstar, but his humble approach to the songcraft isn’t allowing him to slip into the kind of monotonous stream so many of his closest peers and rivals are in. I believe in his brand, and jazz lovers everywhere should as well.