Quantic Soul Orchestra Tropidelico

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Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: throwback funk/soul, Latin
Others: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Bamboos, Forro In The Dark

Sweet vindication. When house producer and late-night DJ Will “Quantic” Holland first formed his Quantic Soul Orchestra to “put something back” in 2003, it wasn’t because Motown throwback funk was the trendy sound of the day. Holland wanted to return the favor to the kind of music that had influenced his production across space and time via dusty record bins and that allowed him to grow into the artist he was then and is today. So now, as Sharon Jones sits atop the indie ladder and Amy Winehouse’s pop popularity rises through the Billboard ranks by the guiding hand of Mark “I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast” Ronson and the borrowed Dap-Kings’ honorable retro-soul grooves, it would be far too easy for him to just kick up his heels on the Sabbath and say, “Yeah, that was me. Now I may rest.” But he just ain’t that kind of guy.

The fourth QSO studio album, counting the full-length collaboration with Spanky Wilson, sees Brighton homeboy Holland setting up base across the planet in Columbia. Recording the long-player there with select members of the UK Soul Orchestra branch and various local musicians, he has caste their sound to the wind. Where once they stuck to their funk guns, Tropidelico is awash with ethnic Cumbia, Bugalu, Descarga, and Latin aesthetics smothering their own soul and hip-hop tendencies almost completely. J-Live’s typical conscious rhyme contribution is certainly given an unforeseen context under the near Samba of “She Said What?” It doesn’t work all that great, jiving styles as they may be, but at least it’s different.

The tight Wilson Pickett swagger of “Panama City” and “Marrakech” both hearken back to the old QSO we all know and love, while the Kabir-sung, mid-tempo cover of the RJD2-sampled Marion Black classic “Who Knows” certainly suits their former style. Those are kind of anomalies here, though. The focus of the album remains fixed on honoring traditional South American styles. Some of it comes off a little hokey-pokey, but there’s no denying the vitality of these organic mash-up jams, which will no doubt age well, considering they purposefully point at timeless techniques. One day, the children of the future will discover these records and those of the Dap-Kings and feed off them for some distant musical revolution. Sho’ ‘nuff, ninjas.

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