sábado, 20 de junho de 2009

The Herbaliser Band - o regresso!

Foi já há quase uma década que os britânicos Herbaliser editaram o clássico «Session One» sob a identidade The Herbaliser Band, amostra do que uma célula de hip hop era capaz de fazer com as ferramentas da criação live - uma banda que soava como o elo perdido entre os Mohawks de Alan Hawkshaw e os projectos de hip hop que no virar da década tinham descoberto a Library Music e os seus poderosos poderes evocativos. O resultado foi um álbum a todos os títulos brilhante (e que muito recentemente, depois de anos a acarinhar esse registo no formato de cd, consegui finalmente arranjar no raro e bastante dispendioso formato de duplo 10 polegadas!). Pois bem, a Herbaliser Band está de regresso com «Session 2», motivo para forte aplauso. Tudo o que necessitam de saber, está aqui em baixo:

Back in 2000, West London’s funky, forward-thinking, experimental hip-hop collective The Herbaliser released their acclaimed double-vinyl album Session 1 Recorded in raw and organic studio jams, these expansive instrumentals marked the group’s evolution from studio boffins to full big-band line-up. The Guardiancalled the album “sterling proof that this kind of music invariably sounds better played by musicians than by a sampler” while Yahoo described it as an “effortlessly cool, super smooth journey around the set of an unmade Blaxploitation movie”.

Almost a decade later, The Herbaliser are in the middle of another new musical evolution. On their 2008 album Same As It Never Was, founder members Jake Wherry
and Ollie Teeba concentrated more than ever on classic soul-pop songwriting with greater collaborative input from long-time horn players Ralph Lamb and Andy Ross, plus new vocalist Jessica Darling. Understandably, they now want to capture this latest live chapter on record.

And the title? Well as Session 1 was always meant to be the start of a series the second instalment had to be called Session 2, naturally. “Back when we recorded the first session we wanted to have a document of what the band sounded like”, says Jake, “but properly recorded in a studio environment, essentially doing what we do live but recorded really well. The boundaries are a bit less distinct now, because we are a lot more musical in our approach. There are still samples involved in our writing, but less than before”.

Session 2 spans more than a decade of Herbaliser live favourites, from the underground beats and breaks of their 1997 album Blow Your Headphones to the more lush, soulful grooves of Same As It Never Was. “It’s interesting that some of these songs are 12 years old, and some just one year old, yet it still feels coherent as an album”, says Jake.

One recurring thread across the album is a clear love of cinematic moods and atmospheres - whether in funky, revved-up, infectious party grooves like “Geddim” and “Amores Bongo” or in psychedelic sci-fi epics like “Moon Sequence” and “Theme From Control Centre”. This may be booty-shaking club music at heart but many of these tracks are as dense and richly detailed as the classic movie scores of Quincy Jones, John Barry or Lalo Schifrin.

“One thing Ollie and I agreed when we started was we didn’t want people to just drop a needle on one of our records and hear the same loop over and over, like many records in the 1990s”, says Jake. “We wanted to have changes, like soundtracks or movie themes. With all our instrumentals, we’re always writing music for scenes in imaginary films”.

Although Jake and Ollie have worked with many MC’s and a couple of singers in recent years, they kept the arrangements on Session 2 as pure instrumentals Future instalments in the series, Jake says, will concentrate on The Herbaliser’s strong track record of vocal collaborations. But this album is a true sequel to Session 1 in both sound and spirit.

“The first Session record was instrumental as well, because we didn’t have a singer then, so we thought it was important to carry on that tradition,” says Jake. “We wanted to create a sound both onstage and live that synchronised both live instruments as well as samples.”

Session 2 is another Herbaliser classic, the sound of an ever-evolving band at the peak of their powers. Forget the old Hollywood rule: sometimes a sequel can be just as good as the original.

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