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June 19, 2005

The Catalyst in the Hat

I have to admit I'm rather enjoying the new single from Jamiroquai. "Feels Just Like It Should" carries on with the very welcome journey he started with the album Synkronised. I was never convinced by this "must be only done on the original instruments" line, and the arrival of Pro Tools and a million samplers in Jay Kay's life seems to have only done it good.

However I can see why people don't like it. Or rather miss the point about what he's trying to do.

He's no longer trying to be Stevie Wonder, or Parliament, or any of those things. After all, they did it better. Instead he's pushing the studio technology as far as it can towards making the album that those guys would have made if it had been possible at the time. The hugely complicated arrangements, layering melodies and rhythms between different vocal treatments, basslines that are actually sung though god-awful toilet-roll-sounding filters and gated to hell and back.

He's become the 'Garbage' of Funk. (Just as they stop being the Garbage of Rock, sadly).

I love all the overproduction. I don't mind that it's traded some gutsiness for a bit of sterility and a more intellectually satisfying approach. It's a *clever* record, and to be honest I don't have a problem with that. There's still plenty of feel in there, and the tech doesn't drown it, it carries it.

(I should also add that having worked with some of the recent output of music colleges in '04, I have to say he's got a hell of a lot more soul than what's being churned out at the moment. Never have I heard such mastery of Herbie Hancock's chord structure, and such little understanding of why he chose those chords in the first place!)

Posted by Tom Dolan at June 19, 2005 12:27 PM

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