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Freethinker Funk Essence’s album The Traveler came out – oohh – over a month ago so I’d say it’s probably high time it got shown some love. The German producer has dropped a number of EPs on Mustbeat Records since they snapped him up a couple of years ago and these (like his Timewarp Music releases before that) have demonstrated our man’s penchant for breakbeat tunes frequently informed by either blaxploitation or, slightly more unusually, folk music of various kinds. The Traveler finds him again drawing on these influences as well as broadening his sonic palette somewhat.

Unlike previous drops this isn’t completely instrumental, although nine of the ten tracks on offer are still vocal-free zones. Opener Breakfast In Bushwick is a moody synth-led slice of what would probably be classed as trip-hop if it weren’t for the fact that Mr Funk Essence prefers tempos that are generally well over the 100 bpm mark. The folksy Wanderlust, which follows, is even faster though the picked acoustic guitars and washes of birdsong and waves layered over the drums give it a mellower air. You might notice the way the guitar gets a bit bluesy on the outro and this blues guitar motif is one that turns up again on closer Countryside as well as the psychedelic breaks of Weed In My Pocket. Even more psychedelic is swirling Doors-esque effort Psych-Out. Dust On My Shoes gets dirtily funky while On A Sunny Morning provides funky seventies TV theme vibes. One key departure on this LP is the appearance of a vocalist, Sanaz, on Be Leavin’. Her vocals combine with the synth-led beat to give this track a vaguely Abba-esque air (in a good way) and help to render it one of the album highlights. A track with a successful Abba vibe on a breakbeat album? Well I guess that’s the one of the benefits of being a free-thinker…
(Out now on Mustbeat Records)

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