Electric Wire Hustle

Electric Wire Hustle

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Electric Wire Hustle's debut album was first released in the band’s native New Zealand in 2009, and then picked up by BBE for wider distribution the following year. By that point, EWH had released three numbered EPs on Japan’s Wonderful Noise label. More prominently, BBC DJ Gilles Peterson had placed the A-plus A-side "They Don’t Want," reprised here, in the opening slot of his fifth Brownswood Bubblers compilation. Like a lot of the left-field R&B championed by Peterson, EWH create somewhat abstract, mostly mellow songs that are both played and programmed, organic yet occasionally sampled-sounding -- a collision of throwback soul and synthetic funk. Most of their contemporaries place a pronounced emphasis on either mood (beats) or full-blown songs (tunes). EWH, on the other hand, are equally invested in both. The voice of bearded redhead Mara TK maintains a slightly rough-hewn, caressing quality -- informed by the likes of Al Green and Marvin Gaye at their most hushed -- even when there is a refrain as alarming as "People are burning." The songs are tied together with such studied finesse that it's easy to overlook their range. The cosmic, escapist "Experience," positioned somewhere between Sa-Ra's "Glorious" and "He Say She Say," works sun-baked psychedelia over a wicked hobble of a rhythm. At the other end, "They Don’t Want" would qualify as the most sublime '60s throwback (is that Jack Ashford's tambourine?) if it wasn't accentuated by a recurring electronic bobbing effect. When it comes to collaborators, EWH don't stray far from the progressive soul corner of the galaxy. Seemingly custom-built tracks are provided for Stacy Epps ("Walk On," a lovelorn apparition's theme), Steve Spacek ("Longtime," all wobbling bass, finger snaps, and synth-squelch), and Georgia Anne Muldrow ("This World," a spirit lifter with layers of percussion). On "Burn," they keep it in the bloodline, with guitarist Billy TK -- Mara's dad, a Hendrix/Santana disciple revered in NZ -- providing a fair portion of the song's heat.

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