Summer’s coming in New Zealand, and I have found the perfect summer album. It is five years old, released in 2009, but as a music blogger, things often come to my attention late, especially when you consider the vast amount of music there is floating around. But in the case of this seriously funky album by New Zealand collective Sola Rosa, the late coming has definitely been worth it.
Sola Rosa, led by Andrew Spraggon, as a collective has been around the music scene in New Zealand for over ten years exploring and creating a vast array of melodic and groove-based sounds. Their music tends to follow a fusion pattern, mixing together more styles than you can count on two hands, including hip-hop, jazz, reggae, soul and funk, something that features strongly on this album Get It Together. New Zealand seems to be a melting pot for these types of musical collectives, especially in the past ten years with bands such as Sola Rosa, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Trinity Roots and the Black Seeds pioneering an experimental fusion style of music, but also a no fear approach to composing music where anything is possible and any style can be mixed together. I guess this is also why many of these acts have had great success outside of New Zealand and why their music can often relate to many different types of music fan.
As for the songs on Get it Together, well the album kicks off with the very funky “The Ace Of Space”, a song which has an infectious bass groove, some pretty cool scratch work, as well as splatterings of strings and horns. This is followed by “Turn Around” which features Iva Lamkum on vocals who does a nice job on this up-tempo R&B track. “Del Ray” is a sort of middle-eastern sounding track, especially in the horn riff which dominates the song, as well as the guitar part which has a slight Spanish flamenco feel to it also. “Humanised” which features Bajka on vocals is a soul-jazz track, with jazz-inspired horns and a raunchy vocal, while “Love Alone” featuring Spikey Tee is a fusion of dub, reggae, and hip-hop, although the results I find on this track are mixed. Thankfully, things get back on track with the brilliant six-minute epic title track “Get It Together”. This instrumental has a Curtis Mayfield vibe to it, especially in the horns and percussion and represents an album highpoint with all the ingredients that make up a good fusion track in the form of jazz, funk, electronic and plenty of groove. I also love how out of nowhere the song transitions into a sort of samba for the last minute, showing that the band can also throw up plenty of surprises when you least expect it. “I’ve Tried Way’s” features Serocee and is a hip-hop/electronic track which I thought failed to measure up to some of the other tracks, feeling a bit like a comedown, especially after the previous epic. This mini-lul in proceedings, unfortunately, continues on next track “Lady Love”. However, things get back up and running on “All You Need”, which is another six-minute track that has an experimental jazz funk vibe to it, while again showcasing the talent on display here when it comes to composition. I find that on listening to this album the instrumentals really stand out and the band does a great job in experimenting with different rhythms, textures, as well as molding together different sounds, with this track being a prime example. Finally, the album closes with “Bond is Back”, the hint into what this one sounds like is in the title, and album closer “These Words, These Sounds, These Powers” which is probably the most reggae sounding track on the album.
All in all, I found this a great album to listen to, and a perfect album to be played outdoors in the sun with a beer in hand and good food. The instrumentals on here really shine through and showcase just what you can do when you mix different styles of music together across one track. The results are quite simply stunning and in some cases quite mind blowing especially for music nerds like myself. The rhythms of this album really stand out especially in the bass and percussion, rhythms which do a great job in driving the album along from track to track, just like the great experimental funk and R&B records of the early-70s. In conclusion, I may be five years late to the party but the wait was certainly worth, especially when the results are this good.