Rocket Juice & The Moon – Rocket Juice & The Moon

January 01, 1970



apparently Gorillaz is no more. And from the vibe of the news as of late, looks
like the recently reunited Blur might not be active beyond their performance
at the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Games in London and the group’s
massive forthcoming box set celebrating their 21st anniversary.


Damon Albarn is making 2012 his most productive year yet in regards to
expanding his own sonic horizons: producing the comeback album by soul legend
Bobby Womack, scoring an English opera based on the life’s work of renowned Elizabethan
mathematician, astronomer and occultist John Dee and is slated to provide musical
accompaniment for the film adaptation of his sister Jessica’s 2010 children’s
book The Boy in the Oak.


perhaps the most anticipated project to have emerged from this sudden burst of
creative energy has been the eponymous debut of Rocket Juice & The Moon,
the long-gestating collaboration between Albarn, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist
Flea and veteran Fela Kuti drummer and musical director Tony Allen. The origins
of this mind-boggling match-up were hatched back in 2008, when the trio found
themselves on the same plane en route to Lagos as part of the Africa Express, a
collective of African and Western musicians founded by Albarn and scheduled to
embark upon a UK train tour later this year. Though Albarn and Allen have
already worked together as members of The Good, The Bad and The Queen a couple
of years back, the three men immediately bonded over the mutual admiration for
one another’s prior achievements during the trip and by the time they landed
vowed to get together down the road to cut a record. A year later, the trio
finally convened at Albarn’s West London studio to lay down 24 instrumental
tracks before inviting a melting pot of friends and past collaborators from all
corners of the earth, including Erykah Badu, Hank Jones, Youssou N’Dour, young
Ghanaian rap artist M.anifest, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Mark Ernestus of
the renowned Berlin production team Basic Channel among others, to hop aboard.


resulted in the wake of this impromptu world party is an 18-track adventure
into the joyous heart of classic African funk as colorful as the jacket it is
dressed in. At some points the music may get a little too Afro-centric for some
people’s tastes, particularly on tracks like “Follow-Fashion” and “Benko”. But
when RJ&TM ventures beyond the other planes of there, as Albarn does across
his patchwork of keyboards on the Sun Ra-meets-King Sunny Ade workout
“Extinguished,” Flea bouncing between bass and trumpet on the groovy
instrumental number “Rotary Connection” and the trio evoking Taj Mahal and
Malian kora great Toumani Diabaté’s 1999
international blues summit through the ether of Clams Casino’s MPC on
“Fatherless,” they are truly a force with which to be reckoned. And for what
its worth, “Hey, Shooter,” featuring Erykah on vocals, the horns of Hypnotic
Brass and further musical accompaniment by Brainfeeder’s resident jazz virtuoso
Thundercat, is just too funkin’ good to overlook.


However, if Rocket
Juice & The Moon keeps it within the scope of Flea, Allen and Albarn by
focusing more on the interplay between these three incredibly versatile
musicians than inviting everyone and their mother’s mother to join in on the
fray if and when they get together in the studio again, the potential of this
new group’s possibilities are absolutely endless.


DOWNLOAD: “Hey, Shooter,” “Extinguished,” “Rotary Connection,” “Fatherless” RON HART




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