By The Bluefoot Project
The Observations EP was good. The Bluefoot Project are awesomely professional. Chocolate Fireguard is a very cool label.
But Brave is a major triumph. Dancefloor, R&B and DJ people are writing serious things about it. And your own Mr New Art Underground here has had it through headphones for two full days at work. It's a luxury helping of nutritious urban styles that recall Reprasent, Urban Species, M People, and the less poptitious side of Ms Dynamite. Maybe some Cornershop in there too. But what's so damn good is that while it masters the full range of MCing, leftfield bleeping, funky bass popping, rapping, dub and all that cliché threatening stuff, it never succumbs. Every track is distinct, hooky, memorable and chart threatening in an ominous way. It reaches out from the genres and ghettoes and stuffs a great steaming fistful of music in your face.
"Concrete" is a very strong opener - with a great saxophone lick that echoes it's way right through the track. Rachel Modest (you can't say this often enough) has a diva destroying voice. She transforms this song, as she does on every track, into a special event. It ends with city street kids singing a nursery rhyme. "Baa baa black sheep". Naturally. "Mongrels" has a Steve Reich-like voice sample, a killer tune and funked over rhythm section. "Mistake" starts with a guitar phrase that I know well but can't recall. But it doesn't matter, the busy drumming, the gospel choir way down in the mix, the beautifully recorded electro tickles and muscly bass sweep it along towards a nice whoa oa chorus. "I don't need you" is a fine torch song with just the lightest of electro funk backing tracks. And Rachel Modest's rich voice. Of course. Rachel Modest's voice. Say it again, she can sing.
"Try" has three things, at least, going on at any one moment. Garage, jazz, old love song, eIectronica all stroll in and out, like good friends who get on well.. I'm maybe not so struck by the rap interlude in "Soma", but then I never did get the point of weak poetry and no tune. Never mind. Rachel's voice atones for all. And I really love the raw dub feel of "In a light place".
The secret track at the end ("Decisions?") even has a stadium blast of electric guitar in amongst the Indian sounding strings, the Portishead-a-like scratching, the rapping and the children's voices. It is very good.
Englishness, with all it's Caribbean, African American and European strength was never this rich. If you want to know where we live now, you must listen to this album. The Streets gave you the thin pants of society's ragged arse. The Bluefoot Project gives you a big warm hug and a seven course banquet. Yum yum. And Rachel Modest's voice. Too good for Radio One.