With From the Sea, Gualala, California based artist and producer Michal Menert and his band the Pretty Fantastics have crafted a musical salve for those suffering from the relentless stream of contemporary reality. The record churns at the intersection of jazz, hip hop, and electronic music; following its own internal rhythm, it ebbs and flows between crystalline clarity and swirling opacity. Uplifting, yet laced with echoes of chaos and friction, From the Sea wraps itself around the listener like a Pacific coast shore break.
A youth steeped in a broad swath of both Eastern and Western musical traditions gives Menert a deep palate from which to draw; his passion for original analog sounds coupled with a vast knowledge of music history has given him a unique ability to pull from the global creative canon with ease. Despite having a deep and well-respected catalog, From the Sea is the first release where Menert and his band came together to write as a group. Additionally, it’s the first time Menert has shared lead vocal duties on a record; and the dynamic & elegant voice of Seattle’s Jules Thoma lends additional dreamy warmth to their songs.
Beginning in the summer of 2017, they checked out of the Western world to meditate upon what they wanted to convey with this release. Menert consciously chose to write this record from the outside looking in. “As we grow older and see the new generations rising,” says Menert, “we look at life and ask “what do we really want of the world?” The whole band lives in hectic places. We came together on the Cali coast to slow down and move with intent.”
During these multiple sessions, the band found their groove, writing at a furious pace. Once the initial tracking was complete, Menert worked on edits and rough mixes. In the summer of 2018, the band returned to Gualala several more times to continue writing and fine tuning the material.
Michal Menert and the Pretty Fantastics have succeeded in creating a both a profoundly beautiful piece of art and a thought-provoking work of philosophical poetry. “We too often move through life on autopilot. When we stop and look back, it’s all a blur” explain Menert. “This record is an exploration of how seemingly inconsequential moments ripple through time and haunt us. I want to help people realize that they’re not the only ones confused about how this is all supposed to go down. It’s universal.”
For all the headiness of its ruminations, at its core the record is built around a concept of Zen-like simplicity. “The folly of youth too often keeps us from acting on insight. I’ve realized, though, that you can live life joyfully without dodging reality,” says Menert, “You really need to just change one small thing – try and make it about the greater good.”
As Menert co-produced the chart topping Pretty Lights album Taking Up Your Precious Time, it was natural that he was the first artist to join Pretty Lights Music. His debut solo album Dreaming of a Bigger Life was released in 2010, followed by 2012’s mega-LP Even If It Isn’t Right. In 2015 Menert released Space Jazz, and the debut by his band Michal Menert & the Pretty Fantastics, 1.
Menert’s reputation as a live performer continues to grow, as he brings his music to fans nationwide via both his septet, Michal Menert & The Pretty Fantastics, and his 22-piece all-star ensemble the Michal Menert Big Band. Menert has shared the stage with musical luminaries including STS9, Bassnectar, Umphrey’s McGee, and more, and played legendary venues including the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver, The Gorge in Washington and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
His collaborations have led to the formation of myriad ongoing side projects including Manic Menert (with Manic Focus), Half Color (with Paul Basic), and work with artists like Eliot Lipp, Mux Mool, Break Science, and more. Additionally, Menert handled sound design for the Dead & Co tours, and co-produced Mickey Hart’s 2017 LP RAMU as well as his 360 Surround Sound performance at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Committed to a community driven approach to collaborative creativity, Menert works hand in hand with producers he chooses for his own record label, Super Best Records.
Where the new and the old are reconciled, where powerful and meek, beautiful and tragic are one, exists Exmag. These musicians take many forms and use their driving, soulful fusion to bring you a celebration of Extraordinary Magnitude. Celestial harmonies and ancient rhythms take you on a journey neither here nor there, to explore the space in between.