The Funk Ark – “Hey Mamajo”
The Funk Ark stormed onto the scene in Washington, DC last summer with their debut album, From the Rooftops. Less than a year later, they are back with their second release on ESL Music. High Noon sees the album defeat the sophomore slump by taking their world afrobeat sound to the next level. They have quickly managed to become one of the most exciting funk bands on the stage and in the studio. This time around, the band trekked out to Austin, TX and laid down an album recorded and produced by Adrián Quesada of the Grammy award winning group, Grupo Fantasma. High Noon is out in stores April 3, 2012.
The group is a project of Will Rast, the band’s composer, pianist, and spokesperson, who is known for his keyboard work with Mya, Ocote Soul Sounds, Federic Aubele and Thievery Corporation. The Funk Ark is an opportunity to turn his attention towards hard-hitting, soulful grooves. Rast worked as a freelance jazz session player in his teens and gained a reputation for being a versatile sideman. He started to work with many r&b and world music artists, which gave him the impetus to create a global afrobeat band.
“To me, funk is the universal connection linking all music – people like James Brown and the JBs, The Meters, Santana, Fela Kuti, Medeski Martin and Wood and The Fania Allstars. The Funk Ark is my shot at making the music that I love to listen to.” – Will Rast
For High Noon the group perfected their tunes on the road and went into the studio to cut the album over two days. The whole band got together in one room and recorded the songs live, the way they would perform in front of an audience. The result is a record that sounds like it is being played live as soon as it starts. “Chaga” throws down the gauntlet and brings in some nasty Farfisa loaded, Afro-funk. The ensemble sounds tight from the first note to the last. “419” reveals a more tribal approach, complete with a 5/4 time signature which lifts the horns with the afrobeat bounce of the song. Guest vocalist Mustafa Akbar adds a jolt of soul to “Funky Southern,” which draws its inspiration from sources closer to home by blending classic DC go-go and New Orleans funk. “Rancho” reveals some Latin influence with its brand of cumbia funk. The grooves are irresistible throughout this record, but the most impressive thing about this album is how diverse it is, which is no surprise given the fact that many of the band members play in several different groups. The album is sequenced well and takes you to a different place with each track. Considering the Funk Ark have only been around for a few years, they have a lot to say and their live shows are not to be missed.