The excellent K7 subsidiary Strut Records continues its
Inspiration Information series, in where the label pairs up modern artists with
their sonic heroes for one-off collaborative jams of magnanimous proportions, by
bringing together Finnish music impresario Jimi Tenor with Afro-beat legend
Tony Allen for the fourth volume of this ongoing cycle of creativity.
And, just as it had enjoyed with Vol. 3’s acclaimed union of
UK progressive groove theorists The Heliocentrics and legendary Ethiopian
bandleader Mulatu Astatke, the coming together of Tenor and Allen yields a most
enjoyable adventure that plays upon both parties’ compositional strengths
compounded by the spontaneity of the jam session in and of itself. It was said
that Allen actually had no idea who Tenor even was before Strut approached him
on the idea of working with the genre-hopping Norwegian musician. Recorded in Berlin, Finland
and Paris over
the course of winter 2008-2009, one could never tell from these nine tracks
that Tenor and Allen had never worked together before, as the funk this pair
lays down is tighter and nastier than a Tsetse fly’s tweeter.
Flanked by the help of members of Tenor’s back-up band Kabu
Kabu, Allen and Tenor maneuver through the side streets of dusty old soul,
break-heavy Schifrin-esque incidiental score music, world-wise jazz, buggy dub,
heavy psyche funk and politically charged hip-hop, all powered by the uncanny
drumming of Allen, who sounds like he hasn’t had as much fun behind his drum
kit since his days in Fela Kuti’s Afrika 70. Tenor’s skills as both an arranger
and musician truly shine as well here, particularly on the 13-minute Afro-acid
boogie “Three Continents”, the polyrhythmic rocksteady of “Selfish Gene” and the
urban jazz throwdown “Path to Wisdom”, which features vocals by the
Berlin-based MC Allonymous, whose lyrics waxing conspiratorial about the
Draconian-Reptilian agenda, the Bilderberg Group and the chemtrail phenomenon
could easily earn him a place as paranoid paleoconservative radio star Alex
Jones’s favorite rapper.
While it’s not certain who Strut Records have in mind to
combine for Vol. 5, whomever they pair up will certainly have quite a challenge
topping the dynamic duo of Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen.
Standout Tracks: “Selfish Gene”, “Path to Wisdom”, “Darker Side of Night”, “Three Continents”