Album Review: Vulgarian Knights - Feindrehstar

Out on German label Musik Krause and distributed via Kompakt, Vulgarian Knights marks a contrast to anything Kompakt would normally get involved in and is a long way from the German minimal you may be envisaging. Whilst there is a swagger in the sound this is about as far from Kompakt's minimal and ambient goodness as you can get.

Vulgarian Knights is actually a collection of funk and soul jams, albeit laced with a slighty dubby and acidic undertone, and is likely to appeal to fans of Jazzanova. At times it feels close to hip-hop but there is always enough pace for this to be an album that will still get people moving. Feindrehstar have actually existed for ten years as a seven-piece acoustic live act - despite this Vulgarian Knights marks their debut album release.

And ultimately it is slightly beard-y exoticism, which is all well and good, but things are at their best when Feindrehstar mix things up a little. Where opener 'Knochenbrecher' feels just a little too formulaic the more playful sound and samples of 'Fete De La Kita' shine much brighter, the break boasting a lovely warm jazzy brass moment. In terms of a modern take on Fela Kuti, it actually reminds BlackPlastic of Common's tribute to Fela, 'Time Travellin'', which in our opinion is high praise indeed.

And Fela is clearly an inspiration - he gets his own dedicated track here in the form of 'Fela Fresh' - and the adventurous freeform approach and use of Afrobeat works well in combination with the uptempo, dance floor friendly sound.

Just short enough that it leaves before it out-stays it's welcome, Vulgarian Knights goes out on a high note - the much more laid back, contemplative lounge jazz of 'Happy Hour'. Letting the music really breath over the first five minutes before diving into a faster tempo. It proves that, actually, Feindrehstar can do it all in one track when they feel like it - and it is a shame they don't a bit more often.

Download Vulgarian Knights (Maxi Version) on MP3 for free [right click, save as].

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Vulgarian Knights is out on Musik Krause on 6 September, available for pre-order from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].