Warning: contains cheeky nods to party breaks and rave. Side effects can include a big daft grin and an irresistible urge to dance.
Despite having a fairly brief release CV so far, Brazilian duo Jam Thieves have already built themselves a solid reputation in the D&B world. This, their debut full-length, should now push them to the next level pretty much instantly.
It's telling that the album comes on Playaz Recordings, because the influence most clearly heard throughout Minimal Funk Project is that of the kind of jump-up peddled by the original Tru Playaz imprint (and of course Urban Takeover) back in the mid-late 90s. The 90s leanings don't stop there, either - at times there are nods both to the big beat that was around at roughly the same time, and to classic rave/hardcore. But that's not to say Minimal Funk Project is a backwards-looking album - far from it. The dark, steppy and minimalistic This Is The Future, for instance, could only have been crafted in a post-dubstep world, as could The Hangman, while Baby Blues is contemporary liquid funk at its finest and Streets Of Sin looks to more minimal D&B styles for inspiration.
No, rather than being a mere pastiche of musical styles of yore, it's the spirit of those heady 90s days that Minimal Funk Project captures so well. A time when there was no bassline so dark and gnarly it couldn't be topped with a cheeky vocal sample, no rolling breakbeat so intricate and delicate it couldn't be interrupted with a monstrous sawtoothed synth stab just for the hell of it. Nowhere is this illustrated better than on the opening title track, where sparse, steppy passages alternate with fierce, firing breakbeats and huge, sweeping bass growls, and where both are topped with James Brown-like grunts and shouts.
An ass-shakin' party from start to finish, yet never descending into cheese or feeling the need to go balls-out and aggro for the sake of it, this is as enjoyable a drum & bass album by a single artist as I can remember hearing for several years. Check the album minimix below and tell me I'm wrong!
Words: Russell Deeks
Release date: 11 July
Review Score: 9