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(53:10, Zoho Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. In Time 6:41 2. It's a Family Affair Groove Version 4:52 3. Fun 5:08 4. The Same Thing 5:06 5. You Can Make It if You Try 4:04 6. Stand! 4:48 7. Thank You for Talking to Me Africa 6:56 8. It's a Family Affair Falu Mix 5:00 9. The Same Thing Drive Mix 4:53 10. Dreams 5:42 LINEUP: Jason Miles - keyboards, synth bass, programming DJ Logic – turntables With: Roberta Flack (!) – vocals Nona Hendryx – vocals Mike Mattison – vocals Ingrid Jensen – trumpet Gottfried Stoger – sax Dean Brown – guitars Adam Dorn – bass Greg Errico – drums Bashiri Johnson – percussion &: Several additional musicians
Prolusion. The US project GLOBAL NOIZE is a collaboration featuring Jason Miles and DJ Logic as permanent members, the twosome kicking off their recording career in 2008 following some more or less planned live events. A second album followed in 2011. "Sly Reimagined" is their third full album production, and was released through the US label Zoho Roots in 2013.
Analysis. As I am writing this review for a website primarily dealing with progressive rock, I might state straight away that while "Sly Reimagined" is a high quality release, it is also a production that have few ties to progressive rock, even if regarded from a liberal point of view. It is, mostly, a tribute to 60's and 70's band Sly & the Family Stone, a band arguably best known for breaking down the boundaries between funk, soul and disco, and Global Noize's take on their music doesn't bring these compositions any closer to the progressive rock realm. With scratching and hip hop inspired vocal details flavoring the proceedings, the first handful or so of re-imagined classics from the back catalog of Sly & the Family Stone on this disc slickly pours out of the speakers in a manner that, to my perhaps stereotypical mind, brings forth an instant association to a brother cruising in the hood with his convertible. Careful funky guitar licks, elaborate but accessible rhythms, funk-tinged bass and careful bubbly organs combine with stunning, crystal-clear lead vocals to form a smooth and accessible arrangement, with carefully surging smooth synthesizer textures adding a subtly futuristic touch to the proceedings. Funky saxophone and trumpet details are given ample space as well, and the end result, depending on intensity and the number of instrument and vocal layers applied at the same time, ranges from contemporary sounding mainstream and expressive funk to careful, almost lazy lounge-jazz tinged funk in expression. Very well made, but with a distinct black man's music vibe to it, as far as I'm concerned, the hip hop details and soulful vocals arguably emphasizing that alongside the distinct funk focus that is at the core here. But from Stand and onwards this album really starts to soar. The said track itself is covered in a truly tasteful manner, a delicate musical backdrop that really creates space for the vocalists and instrumentalists involved to bring forth the magical details. Thank You for Talking to Me Africa adds in world music flavored vocal details to a booming, more distinct and powerful funk expression. Not as accessible as regarded from a pop music oriented point of view perhaps, but the powerful funk combined with vocal details I'd guess belongs to a tradition from Pakistan, Bangladesh or possibly India and does give this re-imagination something special. The same vocal details are applied for a splendid, more instrumental based take on It's a Family Affair, transforming this composition to a more ethereal, dream-laden and overall exotic journey. The slower paced, chugging and powerful second take on The Same Thing that follows next is another high point, probably not as broadly appealing in expression, but a saucy constellation of sounds that will find a lot of favor amongst those who truly listen to music with full concentration. Concluding this CD is an original compositions by Miles, a creation of a rather different nature altogether. In terms of style it does fit the context I might add, but the aptly named Dreams is much more of a dream-laden affair, combining reggae and funk, flavoring the arrangements with details from disco and world music. A kind of new age oriented take on a funk and reggae blend if you like, highly enjoyable but not quite at the same level of interest as the compositions preceding it.
Conclusion. While avid fans of progressive rock probably won't find "Sly Reimagined" to be an appealing production per se, I kind of suspect those with a taste for jazz-rock who otherwise have a fairly liberal taste in music might be intrigued by this album. Otherwise I'd mark this down as a CD with a fairly broad general appeal, with fans of funk-oriented contemporary pop music as a likely key audience.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: February 1, 2014
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