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Fat Freddy's Drop - Dr Boondigga & The Big BW

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Rating: * * * *

Ponderous is possibly the wrong word. But for some, that sums up the music of Fat Freddys Drop. Especially the Wellington band's live experience, where often it takes 30 minutes of meandering intro before you get down to bobbing around blissfully. Some punters just don't have the patience.

Yet it's a powerful thing when bands meditate and linger on songs - everyone from Black Sabbath to Burial do it masterfully and, depending on your tolerance levels, Fat Freddys are also fine exponents of this.

There are plenty of lovely lingering moments of soulful reggae dancefloor jamming on Dr Boondigga & The Big BW, the long awaited follow-up to the 120,000-plus selling debut Based On A True Story from 2005. It's 70 minutes long with just nine tracks but compared to the band's sprawling live show it's a honed and focused beast.

And while it's not as catchy as their debut, it's more sonically diverse. Two tracks in particular - the echoing throb of 10-minute long Shiverman and the jaunty mechanical dub of Wild Wind - make the album distinct from Based On A True Story. They're both dancefloor fillers, as if beat-maker Mu (real name Chris Faiumu) has stepped back in time to when he used to haunt the seedy clubs of the capital in the early 90s.

While Wild Wind reveals a stealth German influence, Shiverman is the stand-out with singer Dallas Tamaira's smoky lilt riding above a pulsing old-school techno beat, before some warm quavering brass brings it to a close.

Lyrically Tamaira continues to be more about repetitive soulful mantras than coming up with anything profound. Two of his best include: "And though my people may not be many we are ready to be strong as one" on The Raft, and "Something cookin' in the kitchen tonight" on brassy foodlovers anthem The Nod.

There's nothing quite as bouncy as Wandering Eye but often Dr Boondigga sounds more light and breezy compared to the rumbling bass undercurrent of the first album. Opener Big BW sits somewhere between the Brown Sugar soul of D'Angelo and mellow Miles Davis; Boondigga starts out as Hall & Oates-style soul, escalating into a trance before giving way to a hushed end; and The Raft has a brassy, kick-along reggae chink.

It's an album that's beautifully cruisy, at times uplifting, and, if you're patient, it occasionally gives you the shivers, man.

Scott Kara







 

 

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