Saturday, 22 February 2020

Fat Freddy's Drop ‎– Special Edition Part 1 (2020)

Genre: Electronic, Jazz, Reggae, Funk / Soul
Format: Vinyl, CD
Label: The Drop

Tracklist:
1.   Kamo Kamo
2.   OneFourteen
3.   Raleigh Twenty
4.   Special Edition
5.   Trickle Down
6.   Six-Eight Instrumental

Credits:
Bass – Tyrone McCarthy
Drums – Iraia Whakamoe, Julien Dyne
Percussion – Will Ricketts
Performer, Producer, Written-By – Chris (Mu) Faimu, Dallas Tamaira, Fat Freddy's Drop, Iain Gordon, Joe Lindsay, Scott Towers, Tehimana Kerr, Toby Laing

Get Ready. Set. Drop! The Freddy’s are back with some choice new cuts to sink your teeth into. Part 1 of a double album, Special Edition Part 1, landed on Friday 15th November (Part 2 will be out later next year). Recorded at the band’s Wellington studio, BAYS, this new beast of boogie is a short but sweet mix of road-tested jams and material written ‘undercover’ during the band’s limited downtime. 
Of the six new offerings, Raleigh Twenty (gotta love that name!), Trickle Down and Six-Eight Instrumental came from those sessions, whilst Special Edition, Kamo Kamo, and OneFourteen were firm faves in their worldwide touring sets. 
The vanguard single Kamo Kamo is already out, whetting appetites, especially for us down here in their hometown of Welly, as we all wait with heavy anticipation for their upcoming Lower Hutt gig. That show will be part of a ten show rollout that spans places from the deep south to the heady north. Google Kamo Kamo and you’ll be reminded of the small ‘grenade shaped’ marrow or squash traditionally used in hangis and fry-ups. It sticks with the band’s obsession with kai, and is the purest definition of the late-night roots reggae grill, thickened with Joe Taimara’s trade mark buttery vocals, and super funky horn punctuations from Scott Towers, Toby Laing and Joe Lindsay. 
High up on my repeat playlist is the Detroit House-influenced Trickle Down. I especially loved the locomotive rhythms laid down by Chris Faiumu (aka DJ Fitchie). Still rocking his trusty MPC he engineers this little engine through wave after wave of sophisticated groovyness. Layered over it all, Taimara (aka Joe Dukie) brings us desperate conscious lyrics that repeat a cry from Capitalism’s forgotten: ‘Getting short on patience, getting high on hope, getting short of patience siting here waiting for the rain to fall’. 
Raleigh Twenty is a tricky little number. It starts off with a nifty little 1980’s computer game jingle, then spreads out into the blissful jazz-pop of 70’s heroes Steely Dan. However, I’m pretty sure Messrs Becker and Fagan never made songs about dropping off the missus and going for a cruise on a vintage bicycle while she’s at work slaving away over a hot computer. 
Six Eight Instrumental reminds me of those blissed out trance-techs that bands like Orbital used to make. It’s a slow creeper built on a simple recurring refrain that builds and builds before swerving off onto a tangent or two in the usual Freddy fashion. While it’s nice enough, this is the one track that still feels a little unfinished. Maybe we’ve been spoilt by vocals and horns, but I still felt something was lacking. I’m just not sure what. 
An absolute festival fave will be the Black Seeds flavours of Special Edition. You certainly, can’t deny the hand-waving funk’n’roots knees-up atmosphere of this styleee tune. Every BBQ from Cape Reinga to the Bluff will be raising their beers and grill-mates high during the chorus “No Worries in the Party Tonight”. 
Of all the tracks that sound the most like the earlier Fat Freddys Drop, OneFourteen is the most likely candidate. Kicking off with Ian Gordon’s French Cafe accordion keys this number moves smoothly into the template perfected way back in the days of Based On A True Story and Dr Boondigga and The Big W. It’s a solid player, peppered with soulful horns and ripe for a big jam-extrapolation during live set. There is added flavourings thanks to Scott Towers (aka Chopper Reeds) and he meandering jazzy sax stint. For some reason my head went off to that clip of Lisa Simpson playing in a dark alley. 
Everyone loves the Freddys, and material like this just proves why – time and again. Funky jams and festival favourites to please the ears and your dancing bones. What else could you want. Bring on summer. Yeah. Mic drop! 
Tim Gruar / Ambient Light

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