L.A.s. funk ‘orchestra’ return with their difficult third LP and prove once again that they should never be in charge of their own vocals. I don’t mean that Miles and Wolf can’t sing, it’s just that when Miles is on mic duty he lacks the growl – a la early 90s jazz-funk bastards – while Wolf has got the growl but not (apparently) the range and ends up doing more of a jazzy scatman thing. With the breaks the ‘Stra are dropping surely we ought to be treated to someone of the calibre of Aaron Neville or Ernie K Doe? Come on boys – can’t you poach Fallon Williams from the Australians or something? You can’t fault the musicianship though – fat rhythms, and the sense to let the spaces in the music speak. Too many modern deep funk bands seem to feel compelled to weigh the rhythm section down by slathering layer on layer of organs, horns and Christ knows what else on top continuously throughout any given track instead of doing what was really done quite a lot back in the day which was to deploy melody sparingly and employ the instruments traditionally used to create it in ways that accentuated the funky rhythm. The Meters knew all about that and as with the last two LPs (in common with many other deep funk bands) this owes a lot to Art Neville and co. You also get the latin-tinged Dark Clouds, Rain Soul and hip-hop bump Posed To Be. Roping in former Jurassic 5 rapper Chali 2Na (and let’s face it – they’ve done him a massive favour after the lame Fish Outta Water) as well as Mixmaster Wolf and the late DJ Dusk this one boasts an epic bassline and percussion but still manages to remain curiously subdued. Every time I spend nearly spent six minutes listening to it, I find myself wanting some huge horns to kick in during the chorus. There’s a remix opportunity in there somewhere.
Listen to Breakestra – Dusk Till Dawn