Four80East is the brainchild of Toronto-based remix producers Tony Grace and Rob DeBoer (collectively known as Boomtang). Inspired by the acid jazz/groove movement that was flourishing in the United Kingdom, they launched their Four80East concept in the late ’90s as a cool, creative side project geared towards a loose, improvisational dance vibe. Over the last decade, as chill music established itself as a genre of its own, their jazz-inflected urban trance music�first dubbed “trip-jazz, ” now known as “Nu Jazz”�became a global phenomenon. With En Route, Grace and DeBoer continue on that path.
En Route opens with a moody ambience and slight blues sway on the soulful electronica of “Five By Five.” After the funky dive into “Noodle Soup, ” Four80East heads into the trippy, film score darkness of “The Drop, ” which blends avant-garde jazz guitar and trippy sound effects over a sensual groove. “Double Down” takes a plugged in, postmodern view of the traditional jazz quartet, with cool and chaotic high hat and drums mixing with Jon Stewart’s smoky tenor; Stewart also adds a punchy solo to the soul-influenced “Been Too Long.” “Closer” serves as a late night seduction song, with sexy wordless vocals drifting over dreamy synth textures.
The groove picks up on the next two tracks: the energetic jazz/pop fusion-flavored title track and the spacey electronica/jazz gem “51 Division, ” before the chill takes over again on “Don’t Look Back” (with DeBoer’s crisp guitar lines circling Bryden Baird’s silky trumpet tones) and the haunting, shadowy “Easy Come, Easy Go.” Grace and DeBoer wrap En Route with the Eastern-flavored, electric guitar-driven number “Waterline.”