Audible Mainframe catapulted from their popular Boston nightclub status to making a name for themselves all over the west coast. Their sophomore CD Transients is a slick combo of rapper hip hop and 1970s funk. You can get into their raps or you can dance to the funky beat. Music fans who usually don’t go for rap will likely overlook the lyrics when they find their feet moving to these irresistible beats. Rap fans will likely dig the attitude of the rapper who calls himself Expo:
“I’m smiling cuz we got a black president/My man speaks wanna say “He’s only half black”/But that’s half more than we ever had. (fact).”
“Money And Flash” opens this disc with assertive hip hop beats swirling around a funk band and raps. It is like nothing heard before. This sound isn’t as heavy as the rap rock bands of the past. The guitar riffs from guitarist Lethal D are from the pure funk tradition and his riffs live comfortably in between the spaces opened up by the rhythm section. Lethal D can suddenly take on an assertive role with some melodic phrasing before the organ riffs percolate up to soul heaven.
Expo is a mature smoothy with a bit of an attitude compared with frustrated angry urban rappers of the past 20 years. This could be hip hop for the generation that has grown up and discovered the funk music of the 70s that was lost in a volume of disco. The keyboardist and trumpet player is called D Miller. Bassist Walt Walters handles the low end. Turntablist and DJ is named Special Blend, and their drummer is known as Johnny G.
Horns and vocals come from the best of the 1970s funk tradition. Earth Wind and Fire, Parliment, and even Tower of Power. It’s all in the mix. The electric guitar makes its imprint here more than ever in hip hop. Organ riffs keep riffing. Drums keep smacking, and the lead guitar finds the right spaces to grace us with it’s gripping melody. Just when you think you have the band pegged, a synth melody may take you to another place with its spacey, washy sounds, forcing you to rethink what you’ve just been thinking about this band and what you’ve thought about the possibilities of these musical genres..
Second track “Don’t Be Sheep” explodes out of the speakers with horn blasts, guitar riffs, and a funk beat fast enough to get a speeding ticket. The rapper gives us a piece of his mind as the vocalist joins him in the chorus. Their voices blend perfectly, and the song enjoys an advantage being rapped and sung. It is easy to picture this song becoming a dance club favorite.
Audible Mainframe can lower the intensity to groove smoothly “Subi Alto (Climb High)” is a mellower version of the AMF sound. A children’s chorus adds to the playful nature with spunky keyboard notes filling in the space until an electronically enhanced chorus takes over. The blend of instruments and electronics is original in its handling here. Guest vocalist Jade Ross brings her kittenish appeal to “Traffic,” another of AMF’s mellow works with a rapper’s edge.
“Radioland” finds the hip hop band back to their hard charging funk beat, attitude, and the guitar and keyboards knocking you out of your shoes with bracing chords. The band’s social conscience builds itself into a thematic frame here as they implore their fans not to ignore a radio station that is in tune with their community.
“Ice Cold” evolves gracefully out of brittle guitar leads and a lilting beat. The keyboards on “Sonuvagun” are hypnotic in their allure and versatility, at first funky and then space age. Yet, the guitar player finds room to rock out in this boogie rap. “Anybody Else” takes the listener into a more universal theme of wanting to stand out by being unique, and they put that across with one of their mellow grooves, keeping our interest with all the talent swirling around. these tracks and with a rapper and a singer abounding with charisma..
Transients is a huge success for Audible Mainframe. The rapper and the musicians both sound cool without competing or drowning each other out. Their producer deserves a lot of credit for keeping the elements together. A less crafty producer may have turned the band into background music for the raps, but Audible Mainframe packs more of a punch by respecting each other’s talents, forging a sound totally their own. www.myspace.com/audiblem
By: Bill Copeland[Rating: 3.5/5]