Funkommunity – Chequered Thoughts (FMG/Universal) CD REVIEW

THE NAME says it all, really. Funkommunity. It’s awkward, it’s clichéd, it tries too hard, but it’s sloppy, and it thinks it’s hip, but it’s about as cool as some trinkets shop in Tauranga for middle-aged women called Funkymonkey.
Funkommunity – a name that makes my tummy writhe like it’s full of baby cockroaches – is the duo of singer Rachel Fraser and producer Isaac Aesili. Both are supposedly legendary in their field, but on the evidence of Chequered Thoughts, it’s a pretty ordinary field.
It’s a self-proclaimed “future soul” record, whatever that means. There may be those who think it the epitome of cool. These are the same people who worship at the feet of projects like Eru Dangerspiel, Opensouls and Recloose; all outfits with which Aesili has worked.
Sure, Aesili’s work is at times appealingly spare, but his jazzy grooves hark back to the somewhat malnourished loops of ‘90s triphop and the dysrhythmia of late ‘90s instrumental hip-hop.
Fraser’s vocal style, on the other hand, sounds soaked in the same overworked, overweening mannerisms as Ladi6 and so many other singers of her generation, with phrasing that is used to disguise a voice lacking in emphasis, power, poetry, texture, or the ability to really soar.
Hey, but these slightly rancid grooves – just like that slightly rancid el cheapo non-virgin olive oil on the supermarket shelves – will probably make the perfect background for the sausie sizzle this summer.
My advice is to go listen to the Hollie Smith/Mara TK album, to hear how this kind of stuff should be done. GARY STEEL
Music = 2.5
Sound = 3

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