by Douglas Reid
Beat Funktion- Voodooland
From the album art alone, one would think that Voodooland by Beat Funktion was an album from the 1970s. Even after the listener finishes the album, they might still think they’ve just heard an album made in the 1970s. Believe it or not, Voodooland is the jazz group’s third album. The group, who formed in 2007, already has two albums under their belts: The Plunge (2010) and Moon Town (2013). The group consists of six members, with keyboardist Daniel Lantz as their leader. The group also consists of guitarist Johan Öijen, bassist Pal Johnson, drummer Jon Eriksson, trumpeter Karl Olandersson and saxophonist Olle Thunström.
The album opens with the satisfying sounds of “Nights out with Billy.” Right from the brassy intro, you feel as if you’ve been transported back to the 1970s. Olandersson’s trumpet playing dominates most of the track, giving the music a strong jazzy feel. Lantz’s work on a Fender Rhodes keyboard is dazzling, also giving the song a solid funk sound. It sounds like a song that Earth Wind and Fire wish they could call their own. “Sunkissed” sounds more like a funk rock track. Öijen’s guitar licks give the track a Santana-like sound while the percussion work and Thunström’s sax playing give the track a strong jazz funk dominance.
Beat Funktion loves to rock the funk jam. It shows on several tracks and is a satisfying sound. The lush funk sounds of “Savannah Strut” allow Lantz to work his magic with the Fender Rhodes keyboard once again, while the title track showcases the group’s ability to play slower songs. Although their name might have the word “funk” in it, the group isn’t afraid to play a jazz-disco tune or two. This is the case for the jazz-disco sounds of “Bongo Universe” and the fast-paced “Kilamanjaro.” The album’s final track, “Mangroove,” is an 11 minute jazz-disco mini-epic. The group lets it all out on this one, truly showing off their mad skills. Öijen even uses a talk box to great effect.
Voodooland is a splendid album. With most mainstream music consisting of pop and hip hop tunes, Beat Funktion stands out for their old school sound. There’s not too many groups out there that are like them. No matter what genre of music you may listen to, Voodooland is worth a listen and I will gamble it will become your go-to album in years to come. Old school rules. Highly Recommended.
Tracks: Nights Out With Billy (06:07); Sunkissed (08:52); Savannah Strut (09:36); Bongo Universe (05:23); The Rain Dancer (06:07); Kilimanjaro (07:51); Voodooland (07:27); Mangroove (11:42).
Players: Karl Olandersson, trumpet; Olle Thunström, tenor sax; Johan Öijen, electric guitar (talkbox #8); Daniel Lantz, keyboards (fender rhodes #1, #2, #3, #6, #8; organ #5; wurlitzer #7; clavinet #4); Pal Johnson, electric bass; Jon Eriksson, drums; Guest musicians: Staffan Hallgren, flute (#2, #8); Simon Monserrat, percussion (congas #1, #2, #4, #6, #8; bongos #3; tambourine #1, #4; shekere #3, #6); Folke Lantz, percussion (shaker #2; guiro #8).