A groove the size of a mountain wastes no time in blanketing us with rhythm and tonality of the best kind as we listen in on “SignOut66” from Funkmata. Strikingly bouncy and startlingly seductive in its many twists and turns, this all-new release from the Ghana-based experimental syndicate breaks off thick bands of melodic ribbonry without a second thought. There is no sonic filler and fluff for us to sift through in order to appreciate the layers within the harmonies here – in fact, for as complex an arrangement as songwriter Robert Bannerman gave this track, it’s an awfully cut and dry piece of material. The chemistry if off the charts-good, and though there are a lot of different components for us to focus on, nothing in “SignOut66” feels particularly overwhelming or overproduced. This isn’t the easiest song in the world to classify using traditional subgenres and style terms, but it’s nevertheless one of the most addictive studio cuts this act has ever stuck their name on. I haven’t put it down yet, and once you’ve given it a spin, I think you’ll understand why.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Funkmata/

The drums aren’t as big in the mix as one might assume they’d be, given the funky design of the beats. This doesn’t really have an effect on the impact of the grooves here – because of the beefiness of the bass parts here, there’s scarcely a moment where it feels like there’s any room for more percussive indulgence. The ebbing of the melody around the minute and a half mark in the track is tension-inducing beyond question, but it builds the energy for the climax like no other compositional device could have.

My gut tells me that “SignOut66” was probably created in the midst of an extended jam session as opposed to within the mind of Robert Bannerman, but in either case, I’d love to hear what they could do with it in a live environment. They could easily squeeze another ten minutes out of this song without making it feel bloated or overexploited (which is saying a lot given the uptick in minimalist tastes among jazz fans over the past decade).

There are more than a few interesting jazz/experimental acts making waves in the underground right now, but on the eastern side of the Atlantic, I can’t say that I’ve heard any quite as unique as Funkmata. Daring to be different in an age that is rewarding sonic assimilation far more than it should be, Funkmata aren’t backing down from the challenge of being one of a kind in “SignOut66,” and they deserve a lot of adulation for their efforts. A follow-up to their 2006 LP Simple Stuff is long overdue, and going off of what they’ve released here, I think we’re going to get a proper sophomore album as this new decade comes into focus. I’ll be staying tuned to their output very closely, and I highly recommend that other fans of the independent jazz movement think about doing the same as spring transitions into summer.

Garth Thomas

The music of FUNKMATA has been heard all over the world in partnership with the radio plugging services offered by Musik and Film Radio Promotions Division.  Learn more https://musikandfilm.com