A lot of music makes life too easy on the listener if you ask me.
It is often filled with lyrical soundbites which signpost the artists’ original intentions, and in doing so take away the listeners own tangential interpretations of what the song might be about. That’s why music without lyrics is always an intriguing prospect. With the direct communication gone, it is up to the music itself to convey the emotion and ideas, the narratives and subliminal suggestions that the words might otherwise do. That’s why albums such as Roots make for such cool sonic encounters.
But perhaps I am overthinking things, and maybe it’s just about producing something euphoric and groovy, something fun and infectious, which they also manage to do without breaking a sweat. The answer, perhaps, lies somewhere between the two or even in both camps simultaneously.
But enough philosophising, at the end of the day it is all about the music and this, their seventh album and the first to be committed to vinyl…a mark of assured confidence in this digital age…is a real gem. Perhaps not having a lyrical component even helps things as it puts the virtuosity of the playing front and centre.
And as they play, they blend jazz licks around soul vibes, funk grooves around cool rhythms, drop Latin backbeats on songs such as – Big Chang, wander languid chamber-pop, cinematic soul soundtracking on the punningly titled – Meanderthal and juggle the deftest West Coast jazz fusions on – Hacienda.
Some albums get into your soul, excuse the pun, straight away. Others you grow to appreciate through repeat plays. Roots somehow manages to do both. I defy anyone to not love this instantly accessible album right from the off. Still, such are the beautiful textures and exquisite crafting of the songs that even from such a positive start the album further rewards the listener the more they explore it.
I’m not saying that Beat Funktion is making an argument that music is generally better without those pesky lyrics to break the magic and mystery of music. However, if they were, Roots would be a pretty compelling Exhibit A to put before the jury.
Released 29 November 2019
I defy anyone to not love this instantly accessible album right from the off.