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Review: The Bamboos – 4

20/01/2010

There comes a time in every band when their sound crystalises … and pushes them into a sonic world all of their own. – Tru Thoughts Press Release

First off I’d like to say that Tru Thoughts have hit the nail on the head with the above statement; this is definitely The Bamboos’ best, most consistent effort to date. They combine irresistably dancable instrumentals, incorporating everything from soul to funk to hip-hop, with outstanding vocals courtesy of the funkiest woman in the southern hemisphere, Kylie Auldist.

As is often the case with ‘instrumental’ bands, The Bamboos have worked with their fair share of vocal talents on previous outings, everyone from UK soulstress Alice Russell, hip-hopper Ty, Megan Washington (who provided vocals on their excellent cover of Kings Of Leon ‘King Of The Rodeo’) and MC Ohmega Watts, however it is when they pair up with Kylie that the magic really happens.

Opening number, and first single ‘On The Sly’ is trademark Bamboos, kicking off with blaring horns and a funky bassline accompanying Kylie’s attitude-laden lyrics. The video for this track has been doing the rounds for a while now and is proving quite the YouTube hit. MC Lyrics Born changes things up a little on ‘Turn It Up’ adding a sung/rap hook reminiscent of Lee Fields (with a somewhat limited range). If i’m honest this is probably my least favourite track on the disc, the instrumental is, as always, solidly funky, however Lyrics Born fails to engage and the track ends up tipping the balance towards ‘slightly irritating’ after a couple of listens. Thankfully things get back on track with the mod-soul of ‘You Aint No Good’ which features the relatively unknown Tongan King Merc on vocals.

The Bamboos – Red Triangle

There are 3 instrumental tracks on 4, which is relatively low for a Bamboos‘ album. ‘Red Triangle’ and ‘Typhoon’ are both storming dancefloor fillers, but it’s the  slightly ethnic/oriental vibe of ‘Up On The Hill’ which displays the bands’ versatility. The remaining tracks all feature Ms. Auldist on vocal duties and a single listen perfectly illustrates why she has become The Bamboos muse. Her sassy, soul-drenched voice coupled with the ridiculously tight musicianship of the band, especially on album highlights ‘The Ghost’ and ‘Keep Me In Mind’, make a truly irresistable combination.

The Bamboos ft Kylie Auldist – The Ghost

All this talk vocals may make it seem like i’m dismissing the talents at the core of The Bamboos, namely the instrumentalists Lance Ferguson (guitar), Danny Farrugia (Drums), Yuri Pavlinov (Bass), Stevie Hesketh (Hammond Organ), Anton Delecca (Tenor Saxophone/Flute), Phil Noy (Baritone Saxophone) and Ross Irwin (Trumpet). If i’m giving that impression then I apologise and would like to go some way to redeeming myself by saying that these guys are undoubtably THE premier funk/soul band of the southern hemisphere, and are well on their way to rivalling the legendary Dap Kings, especially now that they’ve found a vocalist to match their instrumental pedigree (as The Dap Kings did with Sharon Jones).

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