The National Trust

Dekkagar

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Given the seemingly haphazard trajectory of National Trust main man Neil Rosario's past efforts in woozy noise-blues outfits like Dolemite and Red Red Meat, Dekkagar isn't just surprising, it's damn near revelatory -- a sumptuously symphonic soul record echoing the classic Philly sound (with hints of Shuggie Otis-styled psychedelia, vintage Prince, and early-'70s Blue Note label outings added for good measure), the disc fits snugly alongside neo-R&B efforts from the likes of D'Angelo and Jill Scott, all the more remarkable given its origins within the Chicago indie rock scene. The product of a reported 500 hours of studio time -- probably a record for a self-financed indie label release -- Dekkagar's slinky, sinewy grooves are built on layer upon layer of falsetto vocals, wah-wah guitar licks, and brass exclamations that somehow never seem over-produced or needlessly complicated; Rosario's songs simply boast the kind of classic pop melodies that demand such majestic interpretation. Of course, there's not a snowball's chance in hell of hearing near-perfect confections like the 11-minute opening epic, "Making Love (In the Natural Light)," and "Neverstop" on mainstream radio, but Dekkagar is almost certainly the most accessible and generous release ever to bear the Thrill Jockey imprint, and listeners who've embraced the retro-soul vibe currently in vogue will discover much to savor here regardless of its cultural or label origins. It's tough to imagine a better record appearing in 2002.

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