By Brian Heisler
Vinyl, one of the Bay Area's many well-kept secrets, has quietly launched another smooth set of genius. Anchored by the band's signature horns and funky grooves, Fogshack Music Volume I moves like the late hour of a hip jazz club. As the album cover art suggests, Bernie Worrell is featured on the album. At times Worrell is not particularly noticeable amidst the already full funky sounds of Vinyl, but his soulful voice and funky keys are the grounds for much of the album. The singing is minimal on FMVI, occasionally lyrics are looped and the groove develops around this in a euphoric sort of way.
What is a new release for us is actually a selection of previously recorded material remixed by Bay Area friends and producers, the Rondo Brothers (Dan the Automator, Galactic). This unrelated tandem of Jim Greer and Brandon Arnovick added spice to the edges and streaming connections throughout the album to give it an alive and moving consistency. Raw, yet full, pieces were handed over to the Rondo Brothers with full creative rein, who melded completely new ideas from the sounds and broke down longer tracks into more concentrated, solid rhythms with little regard to the original sound. The experiment turned out masterfully for both of the Bay Area groups, giving a new hip-hop life to the funky sounds of Vinyl.
With just one line of repeating lyrics on the first track, "Give and Go" is supplemented by scratching and mixing of synthetic beats and is a great set-up for the rest of the album. "Flea Market" adds a freely honking saxophone along the lines of Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia." "'Whatever You Want To' evolved out of a recording session miscommunication, allowing the keyboardist to extend the jam then the band would fade out," Greer explains. "We created a whole song out of a thirty-second spontaneous studio moment. Then we followed it up with a spontaneous remix session moment. It happened very naturally and quickly." In addition to his keys, wherever Worrell's voice chimes in, it brings added passion and personality to the album. A "thank you" from Worrell ending with the words "okay bye" was grabbed by the Rondo Brothers and spun into a final repetitive phrase, extended into an entire mixed rendering that appropriately culminates the album.
This is a momentous compilation of a band that has been doing great things for many years and often under the radar. The addition of the great Bernie Worrell and studio wizards the Rondo Brothers makes this effort stand out right from the cover.
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