STR4TA ‘Aspects’ LP/CD (Brownswood Recordings) 5/5

Trends come and trends go… But certain things just are ingrained within us for how they make us feel regardless of time and vogue. These things are usually dictated by a necessity, a response to the zeitgeist, or the status quo. These are usually the revolutionaries amongst us, who with their help, usually moving us forward to the next level.

If like me you grew up during the ’60s and through teenhood in the ’70s listening to Radio Luxembourg, Greg Edwards, Robbie Vincent, Colin Curtis, etc. you would have undoubtedly been touched by the Jazz-Funk bug.

So… 2021!

One of the most important tastemakers on the planet, Gilles Peterson, alongside Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick, an integral part of the UK scene and influential musicians/ producers have united in collaboration on a brand new project under the guise of STR4TA and have cooked up an album of epic Jazz-Funk proportions!

When on first listening to the title track, originally out in 2020 as a limited white label 12″ single with mixes from Demus Dub, one was instantly dragged into the memories of all-dayers of the Jazz-Funk golden era and onto the dancefloors of Crackers, Blackpool Mecca, Locarno, Romeo & Juliets and so on, with an unapologetic nudge about its Atmosfear vibe of the 1999 anthem, ‘Dancing in Outer Space’ – perhaps one of the most inventive tracks in club history. That said, this isn’t a remake or remix but more a reinvented and reimagined take on the classic, keeping the raw unpolished energy of the era. ‘Aspects’ is bound to put a grin on many faces, that’s for sure!

Another solid cut, ‘Rhythm in your Mind”, which again echoes Atmosfear, Freeez, (Loose ends ‘In the Sky’ comes to mind) and the ilk, is layered with warm keys and smooth vocals and plenty of bass slapping – obviously, a Jazz-Funk must!
‘Dance Desire’ has a massive nod to the American sounds that had influenced the formative years of so many of us in Britain and certainly an impact on the club culture of the era. Sounding like a love child of BT Express, Lonnie Liston Smith, and some young soul rebels of the late 1970s. But again let me stress it’s not retro, it’s Rennaisance.
‘We like it’ interestingly dances in between the vibe of the Reel People and Players Association… but again not easily pigeonholed into being just a pastiche which it certainly is not.
‘Steppers Crusade’ is a fine instrumental that sets us up nicely for ‘After The Rain’, which confidently magpies from Freeez and their monster hit “Southern Freeze”.
As with all on the album, one will be sitting there for ages trying to remember what they recognise from the tracks peppered with memories of a bygone era.
One can expect to hear elements of all the players of the Jazz-Funk musical arena that inspired many of the young musicians like George Duke, Imagination, James Brown, Eddie Henderson, Breakfast Band, Surface Noise…
One of my favourites, ‘Vision 9’, an excellent tune which had it been out at the time would have been a heavy hitter, and certainly would be fetching a few quid at record fairs now!
The tracks are all excellent in their own right and would certainly get representation on any self-respecting Hi-Fi system, dancefloor or digital device.
A nine-track LP which just illuminates the best of Brit-Funk music.
From beginning to end it’s put together with love and understanding… well why wouldn’t it? …with the likes of Bluey and Gilles at the helm, one would not expect anything less.
A great project on so many levels, in these times we need optimism and realisation of what we have had and what we lose if we don’t respect it. Certainly, this album does that, It takes consciously and puts it back unconditionally.

Picasso once famously said: “Good artist borrow from others, great artist steal and make it their own” – I’d say borrowing from one’s own art is… Genius.

So…do I like this album? NO

I LOVE IT!

Bruce Q