Category: global funk

New Video: Tallinn Estonia’s Lexsoul Dancemachine Release a Wild Action Movie-Inspired Visual for Swaggering “Carambola Jelly”

Formed back in 2013, the Talinn, Estonia-based funk sextet Lexsoul Dancemachine — Condor (vocals, congas), Jonas Mattius Sarapuu (keys), Kristen Kütner (keys, guitar, cowbell), Caspar Salo (drums, percussion). Jürgen Kütner (guitar) and Martin Laksberg (bass) — have developed reputation for turning venues into sweaty dance parties across Estonia and the other Baltic States with an infectious, feel good take on funk centered around thumping and propulsive bass lines, syncopated rhymes, infectious dance floor friendly grooves and soulful vocals.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Estonian funk sextet self-produced their debut effort, 2015’s Deus Lex Machina, which went on to receive praise from DJs and listeners alike — with “Beef Grinder” receiving airplay on Craig Charles’ BBC 6 and BBC 2 Funk & Soul Show and then being included on the compilation Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4. Building upon a rapidly growing profile. the act spent the following year extensively touring with key sets at some of the region’s biggest festivals including Talinn Music Week, Positivus, Funky Elephant and Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival.

Mid 2016 saw the release of “Coconuts,” a tropical disco-influenced, funky tune that received attention globally while topping local radio charts. And as a result of the enthusiastic response to the single internationally, the members of Lexsoul Dancemachine were encouraged and continued onward with their new sonic direction,. In 2017, the Estonian funk act went on their first UK tour, playing successful shows in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds with a sold-out Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club show at Band on the Wall. Further encouraged by a growing international profile, Lexsoul Dancemachine wrote and recorded their sophomore effort 2018’s Sunny Holiday in Lexico, which was released through Funk Embassy Records.

The rapidly rising Tallinn-based outfit is currently working on their third album — but in the meantime, their latest single “Carambola Jelly” is an infectious and swaggering, funky disco-tinged, club banger centered around a propulsive bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Condor’s self-assured and sultry vocals. But peel back the layers a bit, and you’ll discover a song that playfully nods at Latin funk, tropicalia, jazz, and Larry Levan house within an expansive, jammy song structure.

Directed by cult Ugandan low budget action movie director Nabwana I.G.G., the recently released video for “Carambola Jelly” is set in the slums of Kampala. While telling a Taken-like tale of a woman being abducted and her loved ones desperately searching for her, we see some surrealistic yet gorgeous moments of profound joy — in which we see people captured by the groove in the middle of action movie tropes. There’s also cameo from the band, too. Of course, the video ends with a happy ending with a romantic reunion of the video’s central couple.

Led by its Rochester, NY-born, Brooklyn-based bandleader dholi, drummer and composer Sunny Jain (a dhol, is a shoulder slung, two-headed drum, typically one of the main instruments of bhangra), who has  recorded several jazz albums with his Sunny Jain Collective and has collaborated with Norah Jones, Peter Gabriel, Q-Tip, and the acclaimed Pakistani Sufi rock band Junoon and others; and featuring John Altieri (sousaphone), Ernest Stuart (trombone), Jonathon Haffner (saxophone), Sonny Singh (trumpet), Chris Eddleton (drums), Rohin Khemani (drums), and newest member Jonathan Goldberger (guitar), the newly-constituted Brooklyn-based octet Red Baarat, whose name derives its name from a baraat, a wild wedding procession that Jain explains in press notes includes a groom on top of a horse, extended friends and family singing and dancing, usually led by a brass band and for what the color red symbolizes in both Indian and American culture. (Red is typically worn at traditionally Indian weddings and symbolizes fiery passion; the sort of passion that Jain and company have towards music and the passion they elicit from listeners.)

Although the band formed back in 2008, with the release of their critically applauded and commercially successful sophomore effort, Shruggy Ji, the members of the Brooklyn-based collective developed a national and international profile for a seamless, genre and boundary-defying sound that draws from Indian classical music, bhangra, hip-hop, rock and pop with rousingly anthemic hooks and a dance floor friendly funk, based around Jain’s utopian vision and faith that communication across cultures simply takes empathy, creativity, love and a willingness to surrender to the spirit of music, art — and of the moment. And as a result of Shruggy Ji‘s critical and commercial success, the band has played some of the world’s biggest, most renowned music festivals, including Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the UK, played sold out headlining shows at the Luxembourg Philharmonic, the Bowery Ballroom and have performed at the request of The White House, TED and the Olympic Games. Considering that we’re living in a presidential administration that is ruled around hate and distrust of outsiders and others, Jain and company’s mission seems not just hopeful; but proudly, defiantly revolutionary.

The band’s forthcoming (and much-anticipated) third full-length effort Bhangra Pirates is the first album with the band’s latest addition, guitarist Johnathan Goldberger, who adds psychedelic and surrealistic textures and percussive guitar lines. Additionally, the band has played a bit with their sound as the dhol and sousaphone also have been processed in a subtle fashion —  while retaining the enormous, propulsive, tribal stomp and equally enormous New Orleans brass-leaning horn section that won them international attention as you’ll hear on the rousing single “Bhangale,” which features guest spots from Delicate Steve. What has personally won me over with their sound  — and you’ll hear it on “Bhangale” is that there’s a sweaty, “you-are-there” improvised feel, in which the musicians seem to quickly get into a sustained and forceful groove and follow it and each other to its inevitable conclusion. And frankly, if it doesn’t make you get up and start stomping around and shouting along with them, there’s something wrong.