On Record: STR4TA: Aspects (Brownswood)


reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

In all honesty it is surprising that more has not been heard of this new project, the first alliance in ten years between Gilles Peterson and the driving force of Incognito, Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick. The two point their music squarely towards the 1980s, bearing in mind Light of the World and Freeez, bands Maunick used to be in. They channel funk as Britain heard it then, but with a strong emphasis on improvisation. That is where STR4TA has its roots, but listeners will hear the tracks incorporate songwriting hooks too.

What’s the music like?

Summery! This is real good-time music, and it takes less than a minute to make that point. There is some seriously funky attitude on tracks like Aspects, We Like It and Steppers Crusade, with the sort of elastic bass lines that power the very best Incognito tracks. Each has a subtle but well-executed vocal and rich, ever-changing harmonies.

Rhythm In Your Mind is breezy like Sunday morning, hitting exactly the right spot, while the dappled textures of After The Rain have a rather neat parallel with emerging from lockdown in our current situation.

Dance Desire and Kinshasa FC are good instrumentals, painting a nocturnal party scene, while Give In To What Is Real is a vocal winner, dressed with bright, brassy offcuts.

Does it all work?

It does. With a relaxed approach, the music of STR4TA comfortably equals that of its 1980s peers, bringing instinctive good vibes and large, much-needed, doses of sunshine through funk. A few jazzy flavours round the edges are the icing on the cake.

Is it recommended?

Wholeheartedly. Two friends sharing a mutual love of funk bring their own take on it to the world, with no pretence – simply the need to make good music and get it out there. Good vibes prevail the whole way through!