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Shabaka Does Whatever He Wants To Do Toon Traveler says... Maybe a little more of what I want, after all?

Shabaka Does Whatever He Wants To Do

Toon Traveler says... Maybe a little more of what I want, after all?

by Toon Traveller, Travel Correspondent
first published: March, 2024

approximate reading time: minutes

Shabaka is on a musical and cultural journey away from funk, soul, hard stepping, powered up dance grooves, into a more reflective, more inventive, expansive vision of what cross cultural music can be...

SHABAKA
I'll Do Whatever You Want
Impulse Records
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Shabaka has an stellar history, from the big band funk of the Sons of Kemet, superfunksters who can make a Tuba funky, to The Comet is Coming. Here's a man who explores the full gambit of music sources, traditional & modern. These roots are sources for some music's other great pioneers, explores, and composers. Stephen Micus comes to mind, at times it works, John McLaughlin is an classic example, along with David Byrne, at crossover music's more popular end.

Robin Hilton has called 'Perceive its Beauty, Acknowledge its Grace' the LP I'll Do Whatever You Want is from, "Maybe the most essential listening of the week, if not the year. This music is so transporting."

Make no mistake Shabaka is on a musical and cultural journey away from funk, soul, hard stepping, powered up dance grooves, into a more reflective, more inventive, expansive vision of what cross cultural music can be. But these ideas do not always reap the seeds sown, or those flowers are clustered, clumped, islands of delight in wasteland. Sadly this track proffers flashes of delight, inspiration, and invention, but maybe, just maybe does not fulfil Its promise. Check for yourself.

80's flute opening (how did the flute get so fashionable, Keir? Andre? Lizzo?), repeated microtonal patterns, very minimalist, think Philip Glass, the drumming concepts, open to Eastern mystical, and African percussion patterns, but lacking their clarity. There are subtle patterns, with an emphasis on wind and reed sounds it's all very post 'New Age', Wyndham Hill 'house sound'. Shabaka takes the 70s kraut synth sounds, adds hints of metal bashing, mass production, and the whirl of desolation in our post-industrial decline. More than a little post prog, post-human and light years ahead. There's discombobulated vocals, a factory siren haunts, industrial past echoes, on a cold bitter wind. Cut in mixes of different ethnic sounds, woodwind, and breathless synthesiser and we're on his path.  But does it work? It's a challenge, it's difficult to mix other musical timings, melodic patterns, and percussive patterns into something new, and fresh, and listenable.

These challenges emerge through the music. The delivery requires great technique, musical dexterity, and that ability is massively present here. There are flashes, sunlight on a cloudy day.  But there's too much confusion, too much indistinct hazy light. It's a chopped-hash mish mash, a rehash of ideas and past influences. A few new considerations and approaches, a passable first effort. This music needs patience, encouragement and careful cultivation if it is to blossom from the seeds sown here. Still remarkable for all of my prevarication. 

Toon Traveller
Travel Correspondent

Born - happy family, school great mates still see 7 / 8 in year, degreed, beer n fun, work was lazy but usually happy, retired. Learning from mum and dads travel exploits.
about Toon Traveller »»

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