"You're in for a big surprise. You better get prepared."
by Rob Krevolin
Originating their musical voyage in the often overlooked and under-appreciated musical hotbed of Allston, MA, Kudu has now moved into the world of NYC, dropping their first record on Velour and taking their brand of sonic transcendence out into the world. Bassist and vocalist Sylvia Gordon, drummer Deantoni Parks, and the dynamic keyboard duo of Nick Kasper and Peter Stoltzman make up Kudu and its unparalleled sound. Gordon's entrancing vocal style and heavy low end, Parks' irrepressible drumming, and the creative ambiance of Kasper and Stoltzman illuminates the mind's eye, taking off into planes of envisioned serenity. Their debut offering embodies the goals of their music.
Opening the album, the first cut "Temptation" chorally flirts with a head-bobbing, beat/spoken word feel, pondering life questions bordering human logic and instinct. Sylvia Gordon's soft vocals paint the dreamscape constructed by duel-keyboardists Nick Kasper and Peter Stoltzman. "Sugar" pulses into wistful a drum n bass beat falling into a change combining Sade-esque verses with Donald Fagen accents, then dropping into an upbeat pulsing dance rhythm driven by Parks. Track three, "Surprise," is a straight-ahead bobbing soul number with Gordon professing her attitudes toward someone else's ideas about her. "Cannibal" adds the dimensions of a three-piece horn section to the classic lounge feel of this soulful track. The highlight of this record comes in the fifth track "Tell Me A Bedtime Story." Combining DJ elements from drum n bass to the booty-hop of Southern hip-hop, this track is the most exploratory. Stoltzman and Kasper flirt with Herbie a little, while the track tails off into a sonic eclipse with Parks at the controls.
"Cinemajik" is an instrumental track featuring the incessant pulsation drumming of Parks complimented by the instrumentation of Gordon, Kasper and Stoltzman. Onto the hard dance element, "Restless" is a straight driving drum n bass number. These cats should press a 12-inch for the DJs of this one and put track eight, "Relax" a brighter number with a hot break, on the B-side. Force of Nature is the final cut on the debut, an eight-and-three-quarter minute confessional with Parks delving into the work of Harvey Mason on Vein Melter (see Herbie Hancock - Headhunters). Sylvia Gordon's soft vocals penetrate the cerebral cortex, bringing pleasure to the mind and heart.
Producer Allen Towbin did and excellent job working and producing this album with the members of Kudu. The general feel of the work is right on with what the band is doing. All you heads getting into the vibe of the album must check it out live to live the experience. Enjoy.