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Rae and Christian

Nocturnal Activity

Grand Central records.

Rae & Christian can feel the funk. Their DJ set contribution to the “Another Late Night” series should be in steady party rotation at a fine spot near you. These two Brits produce slick hip-hop, neo-soul and funky electronic downbeats as good as anyone. They’ve remixed Madonna, Moby and many more musicians whose names don’t start with “M.”

On Nocturnal Activity the remixers are remixed. Ten tracks from their sophomore release Sleepwalking actually benefit from a hearty once over by a nice sample of artists. The overall vibe is funky, dance floor ready and perfect for nocturnal activity.

I’m thinking these remixes sound better than the originals. Of course it could be that I haven’t heard these songs for a while and these mixes sound fresh. The originals were decent. The best Sleepwalking tracks, which are remixed here, are ripe with infectious basslines, hooks and vocals from Tania Maria, Cedric Myton of the Congos, soul legend Bobby Womack and rappers the Pharcyde.

The beats and overall effect of a few of these mixes are improvements. Bushy takes his time building “Ready to Roll,” and it feels just a little funkier than the original. The Latin tinged “Vai Viver a Vida” gets an “80’s Funk” by Tom and Joyce. Mark Rae’s comments on the track sum it up rather nicely: “They seemed to have morphed the track into a late ’70s New York taxi ride with Tania Maria on the hood and Tom Scott and Bob James on the roof.”

The Pharcyde feature “It Ain’t Nothin’ Like,” becomes decidedly more hippy hoppin. Groove Armada tones down the other Pharcyde cut “Let It Go” with laid back organic drums, distorted strings, keys, drunken bass and some whistling.

Rae and Christian themselves re-dub the Bobby Womack feature “Wake Up Everybody,” with a hip-hop feel. Faze Action raggafy the previously sambafied Congos feature “Hold Us Down.” Wet horns and a nice swaying reggae groove hit the mark.

Extras on the album are a decent Rae and Christian cover of Parliament’s “Flashlight,” and a nice Bobby Womack acoustic version of “Get a Life.”

Elements of the originals remain, but for the most part, these new versions are fresh. This should be a fine medium length listen as you go about your nocturnal activity.

Keller Williams


SCI Fidelity

“Freaker by the Speaker,” the first song, has a verse about a “rave girl with a lollipop binky.” It’s kind of funky. Keller is killer at the 12 string. He cooks along on funky riffs, strums prettily, finger picks, etc. Then he ruins a good flow with some jazzy little hook. Whooo, aren’t you and the band talented, now go back and play that nice little acoustical smargly riff! That spasticality of jam bands can be annoying. They don’t do the same thing for long when they are playing their little jazzy songs. Then when they jam, they do the same damn think for 20 minutes while they solo.

Williams has been big on the “jam” band circuit for a while now. Studio albums for these bands can be hit and miss. For the most part this album, on String Cheese Incident’s SCI Fidelity records, hits you like a parking lot jam. Goofy funkers, honky tonkers and jazzy goofers. He is one cheesy motherfucker. His lyrics talk openly with some attempt at metaphor and such literary hoopy-doo about hanging out with his dog, swimming and writing a hit song. There is a number of jazzy jam instrumentals some stoner nonsense (that I’ll bet would be like totally killer and funny if you were stoned) and a cool cover of Ani Difranco’s “Freakshow.”

“God Is My Palm Pilot,” is driven by some throaty throat singing, beat-box vocal rhythms and other goofy sounds. On most songs, Williams is accompanied with a drummer and bassist and the occassional horn and fiddle. They experiment often with various noises. It’s silly, stony and kind of sounds like Phish.

If you like that sort of thing, check it out because this is one of the better albums in this genre, I think. It just makes me feel better than that jiggy goth metal. Oh, but now there’s a bluegrass country song about an old lady and a 16 minute “Freaker Reprise.”

I give up. Once again, the music wins.