Galactic – Carnivale Electricos

January 01, 1970



New Orleans’ Galactic are one of the funkiest combos on the planet,
period. They are also master collaborators, bringing in numerous guest artists
for each record, from New Orleans R&B legends like Irma Thomas and Allen
Toussaint to modern purveyors like Trombone Shorty and hip hop, rock and jazz
cats. The fact that everything comes out sounding like Galactic, and that their
records are all fully coherent is a testament to how rock solid and focused
they are. 


On Carnivale Electricos they
draw a straight musical line from the Mardi Gras in New Orleans to Carnival in Rio de Janerio.
Although distinctly Mardi Gras specific, the record is, in a sense, a
celebration of Carnival as a universal event. This is quite overtly a party
record, a celebration of the spirit of Bacchus and the revelries of Saturnalia
as it’s found all over the world, even if most of the specific references
points can be found in Louisiana and Brazil. 


The opening track, “Ha Di Ka,”
sets the mood and sonic template, with furious rhythms, clattering percussion,
liquid bass and keyboards and a rousing call to arms from Big Chief Juan Pardo
and the Golden Comanche krew. “Hey Na Na,” with powerhouse vocals by David Shaw
(of The Revivalists) and Maggie Koerner, adds snarling guitar and pumping horns
into the mix, and is another rousing celebration of Mardi Gras. The late
Clifton Chenier gets sampled on the rock hard, metallic-sounding mash up
“Voyage Ton Flag,” and New Orleans
royalty Cyril and Ivan Neville drop by for the relatively straight up R&B
“Out In The Street.” “Karate” brings in the Kipp Renaissance High School
Marching Band for a huge, punchy workout, and Al Johnson and Galactic rework
his 1960 hit “Carnival Time” for 2012. Notorious New Orleans rapper Mystikal makes the scene
for the brutally funky, profane “Move Fast.” 


Brazil represents with two numbers, a gorgeous, multi-layered
new take on the Carnival number “Magalenha” with a wonderful vocal from Casa
Samba, and the equally magical “O Coco De Galinha” with the Brazilian samba
poet Moyseis Marques. These two tracks perfectly illustrate what makes Galactic
such a monster pressure cooker of funk, with lilting acoustic guitars, slippery
bass lines, atmospheric keyboard effects and plenty of percussion all folded
into an insanely funky groove. This isn’t funk in the classic molds set by
James Brown, George Clinton, Sly Stone and others godfathers, however; it’s
funk for the new millennium, which blends hip hop beats and sophisticated
effects technology with an undercurrent of the sexy grooves that have informed
New Orleans music from the early part of the 20th Century to the present. From
the bordellos and saloons of the 1920s and 30s to the concert halls and clubs
of 2012, Galactic seemed to have absorbed it all. Special note must be given to
the astounding production quality of the record by Galactic bass player Robert
Mercurio, with help from Galactic harp and horn man Ben Ellman on several tracks. 


The final track, the
instrumental “Ash Wednesday Sunrise,” takes it out just as it would on the dawn
after Fat Tuesday: a combination of gently swaying rhythms shot through with
sudden, blaring horn and percussion riffs, as the last stragglers fight to stay
upright and moving as dawn and sleep approaches. Or maybe they’ll just keep the
party going…


“Magalenha,” “Voyage Ton Flag,” “Carnival Time,” “O Coco
Da Galinha.” CARL HANNI


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