(2019) Ghost Funk Orchestra - A Song for Paul
The New York group Ghost Funk Orchestra are aptly named. The songs on their latest full-length fulfill both major aspects of their moniker: the songs are wreathed in misty reverb, making them feel distant, mysterious and, well, ghostly. They’ve got the other major component, funk, in spades as well. In a recent interview, Terry Cole of Colemine Records — who released A Song for Paul — said that in order to qualify for a Colemine stamp of approval, “The funk stuff has to be nasty as .” Paul is exactly that: the basslines are fat and greasy, the horns on songs like “Slow Down” are bleary and bold, and the guitars feel like they’ve been plunged in a deep-frier with month-old oil. So far, so Colemine — the label has excelled at excavating the best in modern funk, and if Ghost Funk Orchestra was merely that, it would be yet another feather in the label’s plumage-crammed cap. But A Song for Paul pushes beyond that. The thing that’s most transfixing about the record is the way it reaches into a grab-bag of niche ‘60s and ‘70s musical genres and works the ingredients into its simmering funk base. The title track veers toward exotica, with its peppery organ lines and ice-cold martini lounge horn lines; “Slow Down,” which stacks Laura Gwynn’s vocals a mile high, warps the kind of sunshine-y pop The Free Design excelled at into something spookier and more phantomlike; “Walk Like a Motherer” is all swagger and strut, GFO mainman Seth Applebaum’s guitar lead riding a line between surf and acid rock. By the time you get to “Broken Boogaloo”—which, with its off-kilter horn solo and gurgling drums, is exactly that—you’ve already received a working knowledge of everything from psych-funk to lounge music to jazz at its most acid-eaten. There’s even a song called “Isaac Hayes” which, apart from Gabriela Tessitore’s echo-laden vocals, sounds like… you can probably ballpark it. What A Song for Paul resembles more than anything else is an old private press library record—and true crate-diggers will recognize that as the compliment it is meant to be. Those albums are filled out with songs in a wide array of styles, and are designed to suit the musical needs of a wide array of films. The main difference is that A Song for Paul isn’t out to suit anyone’s needs but Applebaum’s, and based on the songs here, it seems like his primary need is to leave no funk-adjacent genre unexplored. That he does so with such craft, skill, and panache is a significant bonus.
Genre: funk, psychedelic rock, soul
Format/Info: Free Lossless Audio Codec, 16-bit PCM
Bit rate mode: Variable
Channel(s): 2 channels
Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
Bit depth: 16 bits