Boohgaloo Zoo – Boohgaloo Zoo
aaamusic | On 16, Jul 2010
Sometimes unlikely combinations go very well together. Strawberries and pepper, for example. And what Boohgaloo Zoo have done on their self-titled release is something similar. By bringing together elements of hip-hop, jazz, and electro dance, they’re allowed the contrasts to accentuate one another, and it has paid off.
The entire album is a pleasure to listen to, from the fluid intro (aptly titled ‘Intro’) which shows the musical knowhow of the group, through to the smooth and pleasurable closer ‘Tonight’. The music is an updating of cool jazz, perfect for cooling down to in the summer evenings, and it features a mixture of heavy synths, easy keyboards, warm twanging bass, and hip-hop vocals with a great lyrical flow. Yes, it could sound like a train wreck, but it really doesn’t. Instead, the electric elements just make the more organic parts stand out.
Take ‘Testify’ as an example. Rave-standard synth noises grind over a funk bassline and some soul-influenced vocals, and the abrasive modifications to a pretty bog-standard funk melody inject a whole dimension of vitality into it, and the alien electronics make the agile bassline feel all the more sensual. From there we plunge into the darker atmospherics of ‘I Got’, where a chaotic Hammond organ jostles from room with club beats and the omnipresent synthesisers, and almost wailing vocals. However this track, despite the added mood, sacrifices none of the flow it has built over previous tracks, and the handclap/groove/chillout/drumming ending feels so natural, you honestly can’t remember how it got there, and you find that you’re not too concerned about that because you’re more than happy to just see what happens next.
But don’t start thinking that ‘Boohgaloo Zoo’ is a passive coffee table curio to put on when you want to seem interesting in polite company, whatever that may be. It sparkles with an undeniable vitality, and it is in the hip-hop sections this is mist evident. ‘Watch It’ is a good example of this, the interplay between different vocal parts adding an attention-grabbing je ne sais quoi. The funk-jazz aspect too can yield some fantastic energy. ‘Dead Wood’, despite its misleading title, is an instrumental that not only showcases the musical ability of the group but also is in possession of an unstoppable force entirely its own.
The heavy dance stylings of ‘Found It’, combined with the aggressive lyrical turns here and there come across a little strong, sitting uncomfortably when compared to the rest of the album, but when considering the brave move being taken here, a few stumbles are to be expected. However, this chillout-with-claws approach works wonders on ‘No Joke’, the anger interspersed with some musically uplifting and deftly-executed moments of light.
The album does start to drag upon the patience of someone listening intently towards the end, but holding together a solid 47 minutes is a tough call, and even if you find dedicated attention waning, this is an album that is more than welcome on my list of “things that can be stuck on repeat without me losing my temper after round 2”.
Thinking about the music after listening, I found myself faced with a question of who would really fall for this unlikely chimera of an album, as it doesn’t appear to have any particular direction other than whatever the artists felt like doing upon creating the album. However, I then realised that something like this doesn’t need to rely on target audiences. As much as it has its (minor) flaws, the musicality is truly admirable. This isn’t just another novelty act so much as a real quest to create something worthy of attention on merit of genuine passion and ability.
Author: Katie H-Halinski