By Taylor Cochrane
CALGARY — “Let’s move!” shouts frontman Connor Brown, blasting out of the first chorus of Funkensheist’s self-titled epic. Forming from past members of The Big Vah Jay Jays and The Kronic Groove Band, Funkensheist is a groovy, riff-funk powerhouse with an abundance of energy and hip-swinging, head-bobbing connectivity. Their debut album, Stare into the Sun, is a swanky ‘70s throwback with a fresh gangster sleaze. Inspiring feelings reminiscent to those you might experience in some sort of future sex and drugs party in the private basement of an abandoned building; so fresh, but damn dirty.
Charging through 10 tracks of immaculately syncopated slap bass and sassy flavourful guitar leads, one might be interested in just how the groove is born. As explained by bassist Mike Malkin, the writing process is really quite simple: “Generally, someone will lay down a riff at a jam session, we’ll all throw something into the mix and then someone will work on an arrangement. They flow pretty naturally, usually, and the ones that don’t flow never make it out of the garage.”
“We’ve been playing most of these tunes for about a year now, but it wasn’t until we planned our studio time that we started to evolve them into what they are now,” adds guitarist Mario Castronuovo. “We kind of kicked into high gear and really locked in the little details of the rhythm section parts and, in doing so, all the guitar parts evolved, as well. We are really happy with the outcome.”
And they should be, the production on the album is impeccable. Produced and Recorded by Jason Tawkin at Slaughterhouse Studios with an immense collection of gear borrowed from the National Music Centre, the album shimmers with natural vibes that could have only been accomplished with the wonderful world of analog.
“Working with Jason was great! He really knows what he’s doing which made tracking a breeze!” enthuses Marcello Castronuovo, the band’s drummer. “John Leimseider, who works with Jason at NMC, hooked us up with some extremely cool gear to use on the album. The two Wurlitzers (145, 140b), a Clavinet D6 and a Mellotron M4000D were used to add complex production elements to the record. Jason got creative with the use of an Otari MX5050 (an analog tape delay which he added to many instrument and vocal parts). He also made an echo chamber to run signal through out of a vacant room at Slaughterhouse. It was really cool to see him use the space as a tool for effects, rather than simply adding a plug-in within Pro Tools. All of these small production techniques really added a level of thickness to our overall sound that we hope people will notice and appreciate.”
Funkensheist’s new record has a great deal of style, but the record isn’t all just flashy licks and groovy beats. Within the bouncy rhythms and sex-funk vibes is a great deal of clever care and meticulous crafting. Even in its most explosive moments, no elements seem out of place. In a lot of cases, with jam bands, you can sometimes find an overabundance of borderline masturbatory technicality, like the songs are more about ability than they are about the feeling they inspire, but this is not the case with Funkensheist: no guitar solo seems too self-appreciating, no slap-bassline seems over-the-top, no drum fills unnecessarily complex. All the instruments are played well but played together as one, every musician playing off each other and with each other working towards one common goal: a fresh funky goddamn sleazy sex-funk groove.
Funkensheist? Fuckin’ Right!
Catch Funkensheist on July 5th at Local 510 for their album release show.AB, Alberta, Funkenheist, Local 510