Jungle Funk

Jungle Funk

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Carving, or sometimes juggling a niche for themselves, Jungle Funk aims to be a power trio that bridges the various gaps between R&B, funk, drum'n'bass, soul-rock -- all things new and groovy. The results are uneven but surprisingly gratifying. "Ugly Face" makes a strange and anticlimactic album opener, considering the territory they aim to conquer -- but that doesn't make it a bad song...a mid-tempo slow burn like this invites listeners into the familiar taste of past victories, considering two-thirds of the band is the rhythm section of Living Colour. The solid one-two-punch of Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish gives vocalist/percussionist Vinx a lot to work with. Wimbish takes lead producer credit and delivers a clean sound that doubtless came from hours of polishing. It's an ambitious album in that it not only tries to fit into several categories, but it actually succeeds. "Headfake" really can take the Pepsi challenge alongside the drum'n'bass genre -- dub basslines and a little frosting of ambient keyboards ride a roller coaster of unpredictable percussion. Perhaps its only weakness is its cleanliness (can a track be guilty of being "over-produced"?). Nonetheless, cuts like this as well as "Cycles" and "People" make the band a legit rival to the music happening overseas. On the other end of the spectrum, tender world grooves whisper out anthems like "Torn," and a heartfelt funk-rock swells in waves with "Still I Try." If you forget about loyal cover versions of songs, you might even strain to recognize the voodoo send-up of "Aquarius," a rendition that leaves the 5th Dimension light years behind. It's usually a little overwhelming to have a band, album, and song title all be the same. Even so, as some sort of ironic and unspoken rule, the song "Jungle Funk" comes off as one of the weakest tracks on the CD. It strikes the listener as some sort of electro-"Lion King" cliché, stressing the palm-tree and safari definition of "jungle music," rather than the urban edge of the underground club scene. This, along with a half-dozen other mid-tempo tracks, was recorded live as testament to their full performance sound. "Prague City Lights" is indeed a nice simple showcase for Vinx's vocals, as well as for the live technical achievement of multi-layering his voice so richly with...himself (at least 12 tracks looped in a sweet stew).

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