Artist: Rocket Juice and the Moon
Title: Rocket Juice and the Moon
Label: Honest Jon’s
Super-group Rocket Juice and the Moon came together back in 2008 when Damon Albarn, Flea and Tony Allen came together on the same Lagos flight on their way to the Africa Express collective. Ideas were shared and respect flowed and a year later a date was set for three weeks studio time together at Albarn’s West London studio. More sessions were set as they brought in their talented friends for more recording sessions in Dallas, New York, Chicago and Paris. From contemporary soul queen Erykah Badu, M.anifest, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara and her talented keyboardist Cheick Tidiane Seck the contributors bring a crazy load of talent to the table.
Once the recordings were done they were sent to Mark Ernestus, one-half of the Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound partnerships who mixed them in Berlin.And the result? Rocket Juice and the Moon is a staggering eighteen tracks long and full of worldly party music; Afro-funk and soul with a contemporary edge.
Eighteen tracks provides the space needed to cover a lot of musical ground.
Opener “1-2-3-4-5-6” is a simple track made of funky bass and drums, the numbers one to six repeated and synth notes staggered in the same way.There’s a strange mix of old school world vibes and space age sounding bleeps.The track mixes seamlessly into “Hey, Shooter” which is headed by the unmistakable soulful vocals of Erykah Badu. She whispers “Hey shooter, wish you well on your journey to the sun…well don’t get in your way, change your rocket in your shooter” before blasting out “Fly away”.
“Lolo” and “Follow-Fashion” feature Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara’s open hearted sensuality, M.anifest’s musing on science and the world, and uplifting brass blasts throughout. An awesome mix and a party tune. Follow up tracks “Night Watch” and “Forwards Sweep” make for for a creative instrumental
interlude. The former includes grumbling, car-like sounds mixed with almost disco like synth sounds whilst “Forward Sweep” is filled with crunchy keyboard sounds and funky drums.
We finally get a glimpse of Damon Albarn’s vocal contribution in the track “Poison”. Former lead singer of Blur, Albarn keeps his squeaky, high pitched vocal style over a down-tempo and dubby track. The following track “Extinguished” is full of rolling brass, Malian musician Cheick Tidiane Seck’s lyrics and a random array of high pitched squeaks.
Flea’s trumpet teases out the melody from the mix in “Rotary Connection”, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist shines with his simple rock and funk influenced style. By the time the ending track “Leave-Taking” comes in which a new intensity is brought about by the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – you are left to
ponder that there’s not much out of this super-group’s inventive musical grasp.
Reviewed by Heather Welsh.