Sep 17, 2009

Rhythm Funk Masters - Afro-American-Arctic


Strangely enough, an afro-beat band from Finland!! Why not? Rhythm Funk Masters’ music isn’t actually pure afro-beat, but it also combines elements from different music styles like jazz, funk and rock to it. Each band member brings in his own character. To say it in a simple way, we play instrumental afro-beat, funk and jazz music with a strong Scandinavian flavour. Rhythm Funk Masters was formed in 2003 in Helsinki. We’ve had some gigs every now and then, but now we’re going to get more active that we got our first album out! Afro-American-Arctic is recently released in Finland and Japan.


A great little combo from funky Finland -- one who mix in a fair bit of Afro Funk influences with their deeper funk groove! And if you think we used the word "funk" too much in that last sentence, don't worry, it's warranted -- as these guys are totally on the groove, with a fierce instrumental approach that's really really wonderful! The combo's neither a straight retro funk group, nor a copycat of Fela modes from earlier years -- and there's a warmer, jazzy sensibility that touches the best tracks here -- one that creates some freely flowing lines on tenor, soprano sax, flute, and trumpet -- all supported by some very heavy keyboards, guitar, and percussion! Tracks include "Enormous Introduction", "Gogo", "Nudinuff", "Latin Bantu Lounge", "Non Compos Mentis", "Radio Bembe", "Arctic Rainforest", and "Highway".


Rhythm Funk Masters released their debut album, Afro-American-Arctic, last year. The title represents the content pretty well. It's a solid blend of afrobeat, funk and some nordic elements. I've been meaning to buy this one for a long time but since it's released only as a CD and I rarely browse through the CD shelves I have kind of forgot to purchase it. Well, today I found it from my local record stores.

I'm actually a bit surprised and disappointed that this record has been slept on by many people meanwhile some mediocre retroactive afrofunk bands have gotten a lot of hype. And these guys are anything but mediocre when it comes to hard-hitting instrumental afrobeat/funk/jazz. They have definitely listened their Fela Kuti records and blaxploitation soundtracks but they aren't simply copying or imitating those sounds. For me the highlights of the album are Nudinuff, a pure afrobeat groover and Bushman, a great tune that's a bit more on the jazzier side like Donny Hathaway's The Ghetto.



01. Enormous Introduction
02. Gogo
03. Nudinuff
04. Non Compos Mentis
05. Radio Bembe
06. Latin Bantu Lounge
07. Bushman
08. Frantic Activity
09. Highway
10. Arctic Rainforest

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