Geyster seems to have been around for ages, since “With All Due Respect” is his 7th album to date, so yes, the respect is due. A “French Connection” of mine pointed him out to me and I am forever grateful. “With All Due Respect” houses a lot of my past musical influences and it lifts my mood considerably: I find it hard to keep sitting still.
Gaël Benyamin, aka Geyster, is a multi instrumentalist from France that studied music in LA and has been releasing stuff since 2003. He is of a bit a celebrity in his own country but this album might just make that a tad more global soon. His musical influences seem to dwell somewhere in between 1976 and 1987: some yacht rock, prog and jazz-funk, and disco. Therefore, think vintage keyboards, falsetto cooing, pumping bass and yacht rock solos galore! so…yay!
On this album Geyster enjoys the good company of some guest vocalists: Ethel Lindsey (on Easy), Maeva Borzakian ( A Matter Of Choice), Laura Mayne (At First Glance), Sabrina Adnane ( Emily) and Lila Salet ( A Place In The Sun). This all adds to the fun and the eclectic, Studio-54-cocktail-party character of the album.“With All Due Respect” is a rainbow of pop with a broad range….
“Easy” is a tightly produced disco feat with an intro that brings “The Eye of the Tiger” to mind. Not to worry though, because apart from that, Geyster offers a Fender Rhodes, some fuzz guitar, vocoder effects, a truly catchy chorus and plenty of aaahooo’s a la Prince….. This is a “try not to dance challenge”! Not easy...
“At First Glance” is the track that won me over to the Geyster camp. Nothing in the world can touch me when I hear this…it simply has it all: seagulls, jazz chord progression a la Steely Dan, lush washes of brass, popping synths, an oh so funky Chic rhythm guitar … all finished off by a loungy Rhodes outro. “Let it Go!”
Upon hearing the lovely “Emily”, for some reason, I am reminded of “Oh Lori” by The Alessi Brothers from 1976.. Lori knows why…at least it succeeds in bringing back that era when we were without worry, had 2 TV channels and wore high-wasted flares.
“A Place in the Sun”, another favourite, slowly starts off as “Strawberry Fields”… but turns into a kaleidoscopic psych-jazz voyage. Every element is exactly in the right place, vocals, keys, flute, a Stevie Wonder bridge, and man… dat guitar! Perfect!
The album closes with a cover of Prefab Sprout’s “When Love Breaks Down”: not the most original Sprout choice and not the most original cover but it sort of gets interesting in the chorus when the beat changes. Geyster manages to add something more soulful and solid without taking away the refined, gauzy character of the original.