Album Review: EFunk - Soul Clap

Image source: Mint MagazineAlong with contemporaries Wolf + Lamb, Soul Clap's singles have become somewhat notorious for their general strength but slightly off-kilter house and funk sound. Here in long play format they seem destined to either sink or swim, the added freedom either giving them room to experiment and flourish or simply enough rope to hang themselves.

In parts they suceed but this album certainly struggles in places.. The trouble with Soul Clap is that their music conveys a sophistication that the vocals and skits occasionally betray. 'The Alezby Inn', for example, constructs a contemplative electronic funk from warm waves of synths and electro style percussion. The duo go for an Arthur Baker on 'Planet Rock' feel with vocals from The Geneven Heathen rapping about a chance encounter with a girl. It's typically Soul Clap - the vocal, which ends with the couplet "In the beginning we were all created equal. What the fuck happened to her?", seems like an unnecessary and unfortunate addition. The listener is left unsure as to whether this is a joke that isn't funny or a serious track that doesn't have any guts.

Thankfully elsewhere things are less conflicted. Rowley Cezarie's turn on 'Let It Go' is much more in keeping with the music - a raw, emotionally repressed tail of break-up, distorted and hidden within electronic body funk. There are even skits and interludes that work - 'When The Soul Claps' is blissful, Lazarus Man's beat poetry riding a wave of warm soulful electronics that, at just over a minute, is all too brief but sets the tone for the rest of the album.

Also bizarre, but this time in a good way, is the fact that Mel Blatt (yes, of All Saints fame) features on two tracks on EFunk's second half. The short 'Ecstacy' is more laid back soul and features Blatt's vocals perfectly creating a late-80s style R&B record - it's slower than most (though not all) of Soul Clap's 12" releases and it is also an impressive demonstration of their production abilities when applied to slower, pop orientated records. The second track is a cover of The Korgis' 'Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime', here re-titled 'Need Your Lovin''. It is hardly a track that needs another cover and Blatt's bluesy vocal is a little flat but still combines with a US Garage style house rhythm to make a relatively effective take on the original.

EFunk ends on a high however - whilst the album occasionally stumbles the eight-minute, two-part 'Islands In Space' is never short of magnificent. Part one consists of heavy funk drums and a ruthless back hand of sax that really just serves as an intro for the main course... A smart laidback jazz blues record featuring Greg Paulus that just happens to be made by a house production duo. EFunk has it's moments but the best of them really just show that this is the beginning - 'Islands In Space' prooves Soul Clap are certainly capable of more.

EFunk is released on 30 April on Wolf & Lamb, available to pre-order on CD and MP3 at [affiliate links].