By: Trevor Pour
Have you ever been listening to your favorite funk album and thought, "This is good, but it would be even better with some futuristic heavy metal blistering guitar riffs?" I hadn't either, but apparently there's a niche market. On Science Faxtion debut album, Living on Another Frequency (released October 28 on Mascot), producers Greg Hampton and Bootsy Collins take us on what they describe as a "space-age metalloid funk" trip. Featuring a host of talented and established musicians including Buckethead, Brain, Chuck D and Bernie Worrell, the potential of such an epic concept album was almost limitless. With the heavyweight of expectations on their shoulders, however, LOAF never gets too far off the ground.
My initial reaction was admittedly tainted by false advertising; with perhaps one exception and a few short bursts scattered throughout the album, there is very little "future metal funk" to be found. About half the songs are essentially alternative rock, with a few "space-age" moments and a few very good, but also traditional, funk tracks. The album starts with "Sci-Fax Theme," a strong punch of spacey rock verging on hip-hop electronica. It has a solid beat and definitely got me intrigued. It is immediately followed by "Lookin' For Eden," which opens as a nice funky metal song, but soon transitions into fairly standard-issue rock without much excitement except for a few sexy riffs from Buckethead. I truly enjoyed the darker rock track "At Any Cost," as well as the uncontested highlight of the album "Life-IS IN-DeLiver." The latter is probably best described as a strange fusion of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, classic Parliament Funkadelic and old-school Primus. I loved every minute of it.
Unfortunately, the remainder of the album proves to be somewhat less fascinating. For example, the heavy metal "Fatally Flawed Flesh" wasn't nearly as brutal as its name suggests. Chuck D does give a memorable performance on "What It Is," and Buckethead gets his (all too brief) moment in the spotlight on "I See Rockets," but the other half-dozen tracks probably won't see any more playing time on my stereo.
Frankly, this album frustrated me. It wasn't that it was necessarily bad; In fact, the musicianship is excellent. The individual performances were superb, and a few tracks - "At Any Cost," "Life-IS IN-DeLiver" and "What It Is" - were a blast to crank the volume on. Here's the crux: this should have been a great album, but wasn't done professionally. The album cover looks like an MS Paint production, there are grammatically incorrect lines scattered in the liner notes and the vocals are strained throughout. Praxis is such a phenomenal project, I simply expected a better result from Buckethead, Bootsy, Brain and Worrell. I would recommend those with truly open minds check out Living On Another Frequency and find your favorite tracks. You're sure to enjoy at least a few. But for the casual listener, unfortunately, this is probably a safe album to pass up.
JamBase | Lukewarm
Go See Live Music!