Big Muff

Music from the Aural Exciter

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As a founding member of Groove Collective, Itaal Shur certainly comes from a certain sort of funk background -- the kind that is usually limited to throwback jams, the sort of groove that works best for AOR staples like Carlos Santana and Maxwell (both of whom Shur has worked with). For his debut solo effort, Shur achieves a more significant degree of modern sounds, while staying true to his obviously well-studied roots. Music from the Aural Exciter opens with "Vavavoom," a speakeasy-tempo acid jazz groove that dumbly suggests that the vocalist will "rock you all night long." But for all of its triteness, a gentle synth melody comes in, forgiving the indiscretion in a brief 16 bars. "X-Static" offers watered-down world music with a female Latin chorus, yet it is redeemed on "To the Bone," which melds a similar Latin vocal sample into a spacelike disco loop, and again on "X-Static Floatations," which finds the aforementioned song's bassline drifting through an early-'90s Orb-esque soundscape before running into a Herbie Hancock wannabe-key solo. The fact that this all works, even the chopped orgasm sample on "Pornstar," is nothing less than astounding. Even the ten-minute cover of "My Funny Valentine" managed to achieve some U.K. chart success, although credit should definitely go to the early appearance of West Coast super-diva Lisa Shaw, who carries the mostly bass-and-flute instrumental through its entirety.

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