Thursday, June 01, 2006


Canadian collective Bran Van 3000 grabbed my attention with their 1998 debut Glee. It was an infectious blend of hiphop, techno, indie and folk rock and electronica. And a cover of a Quiet Riot tune. I loved it's crazed variety and it's DIY ethic and it's sense of humor. The collective then got signed to the Beastie Boys' label Grand Royal and set about recording a follow up. This meant a bigger budget and some star power - Youssou N'Dour, Big Daddy Kane, Dimitri From Paris, Eek A Mouse and Momus all contribute. The most memorable guest spot on it though belongs to Curtis Mayfield. The BV3K crew were allowed to use some previously unreleased accapella bits from the superfly soul guy, and the resulting track was the disco house hybrid that is Astounded (feat. Curtis Mayfield). An uptempo track that begins as a great bit of string laden disco (circa '78), it devolves into an orchestral break that then morphs into bumping latin house. Curtis' honeyed vocals are a real treat too, so unmistakably his. The rest of the album is as all-over-the-place as the debut, only much better produced. The tragedy here is that Grand Royal collapsed right around the time this album was scheduled for release in the US so it never even hit the shelves. It is still only available as an import, and often quite pricy. The band has yet to record a follow up, probably too disillusioned by the whole music biz thing. Too bad, because it is deserving of a wider audience. This is one I'd like to see someone reissue.

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