La Route Productions [Release date 03.05.19]
I must be weakening. Jazz funk sounds interesting again. They say music is cyclical, that also applies to your specific musical tastes. If you were prey to a particular genre in the past, it’s likely to rear its head again. Especially if a lot of contemporary music fails to hit the spot.
SHOB – that’s the band leader’s name, a French bassist – is very much rooted in seventies fusion. So if, like me, you were by groomed by the likes of prime-time Stanley Clarke, Lenny White (especially 1978′s ‘Streamline’) or Marcus Miller, this should hit the spot. And its lineage can also be traced back to the dawn of jazz funk fusion and Herbie Hancock’s seminal ‘Headhunters’ in 1973 (‘What Now?’).
‘Solide’ follows 2018′s excellent ‘Karma Obscur’ and only differs by the judicious deployment of Afro funk rhythms, as demonstrated by opener ‘Hostile’. It’s a great example of straight-ahead funk fusion with Johary Rakotondramasy’s insistent township-style rhythm guitar contrasting with Tony Lavaud’s pervasive organ work. And of course it’s all underpinned by Shob’s “solide” funk bass figures.
‘Primal Fear’ on the other hand introduces a touch of electro but I defy you to stop twitching to a tune punctuated by deft horn work (PM Moreau, PJ Ley). This is funk groove par excellence with a repetitive and compulsive riff rhythm and is replicated throughout the album including the marvellously infectious ‘La Breche’ and ‘Turbo Zulu’ which features second guitarist Jean Lou Siaut. And mention should also be made of drummer Morgan Berthet who is also a member of Tunisian melodic metallers Myrath.
The achievement of ‘Solide’ is the creation of an extremely listenable album that puts song construction first but allows enough space for the instrumentation (Check out the excellent ‘Memoire’ for proof).
The addition of the two vocal tracks is perhaps questionable given that they don’t really add anything to the overall offering. But that’s probably a personal aversion to the semi-rap delivery and hip-hop stylings. They’re still damn funky, though.
I gather ‘Solide’ has been conceived to be played live and that must surely be the next step. The band have already made an appearance (April 2019) at Ronnie Scott’s in London when they opened for fusion guitarist Scott Henderson. Hopefully they’ll be back. ****1/2
Review by David Randall
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