AfterDark’s Dean Hodge reviews the new single by AfroCluster (released 9 Nov 2015).
In my last review of Afro Cluster’s preceding single They Don’t Know featuring Helena-May (released New Year’s Day this year) I described it as ‘four-minutes of pedal-to-the-floor doo-wop funk layered with shimmering beats, brash horns, smouldering guitar licks and topped off by a sultry vocal turn from Miss May which elevates the track to another level of sophisticated sass.’
My verdict was really just a short and sweet sampling of the sonic beverage that lays within the track. The music purely does all the talking by itself and if it was a mouth, it would need an excessive amount of cooling mints to cool down the fire that echoes from its belly.
The gap between They Don’t Know and their upcoming release Basic Questions (featuring Greg Blackman) has certainly done much to heighten the appetite for more of the same soaring level of smouldering soul-driven hip-hop. Any chances of feeling short-changed by their new release can be laid firmly to bed, as Basic Questions answers any such apt inquisitiveness in the same manner that They Don’t Know did.
Each member of the band together forms a tight-knit engine that drives the band’s wall of funk-driven fury, fuelled by a respect for the roots of soul and blues. On this track, that engine is taken down a few gears or two and almost planted in cruise control for the whole five-minute duration of the track. While the sound is slower and seemingly horizontal, it is by no means any less raw or rambunctious. With its dirge-adorned guitar licks, its slinky bassline and poetic mouth enunciating courtesy of frontman Skunkadelic, it is a track that makes resisting the urge to shimmy along to it an impossible feat.
With the serene vocals of Helena-May gracing their last effort, the catchy vocal hook on this record belongs to homegrown blues man Greg Blackman – a undeniable talent with a voice as coarse as sandpaper and as smooth as silk in simultaneous measure.
The end product is a track that sounds as if it could be bellowed from the cotton fields of the American Deep South rather than the coal mines of the South Wales Valleys. Even if we are faced with another lengthy wait until their next release, Basic Questions should keep us swaying throughout the impending winter months nicely.
Afro Cluster will be launching the single with a gig in Gwdihw on Fri 6 Nov (9pm – 2:30pm). Tickets for this gig are available from here.
More from Afro Cluster
More from Greg Blackman