Galactic: Ruckus (2003)
On Galactic’s new recording Ruckus they blend their usual spices of New Orleans funk, jazz and soul with the urban sound and feel of hip-hop music and culture, along with a healthy dose of dance and techno. Galactic has found a niche on the jam-band circuit, which encourages freedom of experimentation, and that is what this outfit has been doing for the past few years. They have dug into the soul of urban music and come up with the sound and most importantly the feel of urban hip-hop music and spice it up with some dance licks and techno samples. They enlisted the help of Dan the Automator to the bridge the gap between their organic sound and the knob twirling and electronic tricks of hip-hop and dance.
The call to arms comes on the opening salvo, ironically entitled "Bittersweet." Drummer extraordinaire Stanton Moore kicks off a roll and fill and you are is off to an aurally exciting and musically invigorating adventure. While the song is next to flawless, the thin vocals of Theryl "The Houseman" de’ Clouet during the chorus takes ever so slightly away from an invigorating and uplifting listen.
The common theme of this recording centers around the ever so in-the-pocket, behind-the-beat playing of drummer Stanton Moore. He is to be, if not already, included among the greats of the legendary drumming tradition of the Crescent City; no doubt a top ten member. His groove is ever so infectious on the laid back "Bongo Joe" and "Gypsy Fade." These tunes put you on a lawn chair under an umbrella on a hot summer's day with your hands wrapped around an ice-cold bottle of Abita beer. This tone is further set effectively with the use of a breathy harmonica lead and Delta blues slide guitar accent accompaniment.
The up-tempo and rocking song “The Moil” challenges you to not only try and not dance but try and keep up with the changes and fluctuations of its rhythm and pace: A flawless execution.
The recording's one flaw, be it a minor one, lies in the approach to “Kid Kenner.” For a reason not easily explainable, it feels unrealized as a composition and a bit out of place. While not a fatal flaw, it had me reaching for the fast forward button on my CD player for the next and ever so pleasurable piece, “The Beast.”
Ruckus is not for the faint of heart. It challenges you to open your mind to new sounds and new blends of tones and styles: think Digable Planets, if you need a reference point. You'll find a new excuse to turn up to eleven and take a nice one-hour road trip with no particular destination. Don't go near this record if you like to put artists into categories or pigeonholes!
Track Listing: 1. Bittersweet 2. Bongo Joe 3. The Moil 4. Paint 5. Never Called You Crazy 6. Gypsy Fade 7. Mercamon 8. Uptown Odyssey 9. Kid Kenner 10. The Beast 11. Tenderness 12. All Behind You Now 13. Doomed
Personnel: Theryl de' Clouet - vox Ben Ellman - sax, harmonica, programming Robert Mercurio - bass, backing vox Stanton Moore - drums, loops Jeffrey Raines - guitars Richard Vogel - keys
Additional Musicians: Jim Greer - guitars and keys Teddy Boutte - vox Quintron - drum buddy Glenn Hartman - accordian Jonathan Freilich - guitar Astacio the Nudist - keys