Friday, 27 May 2011

Hidden Gem: Motor Bass Get Phunked Up - La Funk Mob (Mowax)

Leaving home for the first time is one of the formative times in any person’s life. In my case it was when I left Gloucestershire at the age of eighteen to go and live in Liverpool. Initial disorientation soon gave way to new friends, nights out and exciting new music.

Our night out of choice at the university was 'Boogie Shoo' – a jazz, funk and soul night in the predictably named Mandela Bar. It was basically a long, dark room but double gin and tonics were a quid (cheap even in 1992) and my friends Rhys, Anj and Yuri span the tunes. Most of the selections were fairly predictable jazz funk standards – Gil Scott Heron’s The Bottle, Roy Ayer’s He’s a superstar, the odd Tribe Called Quest track perhaps...there was one song in particular though that really caught my ear. It was without much vocal and very slow, taking almost two minutes for any sort of melody to kick in, but it had a groove and was as deep as anything I'd ever heard. It started like a dance track but when the bass kicked in it was really funky. Rhys a.k.a. Boney M.Organ, would bring it in over the top of other tracks, slowly building the tension before a huge bass kicked in and about 20 students would get lost in a sea of dry ice.

I had to know what the track was and sure enough it was Motor bass get phunked up by La Funk Mob. In the twenty years since I first heard it I’ve never tired of it. It is a perfect example of a track that takes it time getting to where it is going but once you’ve ‘got it’ it stays with you forever, the sort of track in which you can lose yourself and forget everything else that is going on in the world. Starting with a suspense laden cymbal, it breaks down in the middle, a European female voice uttering ‘Paris, London, from La Funk Mob’. The only other vocal is a man claiming ‘this is some good stuff man’, one assumes he’s not talking about gin n' tonic. This track is effortlessly cool, recalling Trans Europe Express, 80’s electro and even jazz rather than the other Mowax tracks of the time.

La Funk Mob were actually Hubert Blanc Francard (Boom Bass) and Philippe Zdar Cerboneschi and would later become French house legends Cassius. They started working together in 1988 producing MC Solaar, in 1991 they formed La Funk Mob. La Funk Mob never got the kudos or commercial success that Cassius (or even another of their projects Motorbass) achieved but its doubtful that they’ve ever bettered this track.

Some music isn’t easy, you have to work at it to get it but when you do it means more. Motor Bass Get Phunked Up is a perfect example.

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