The first thing that I noticed about The Funk Ark’s new album High Noon is that doesn’t waste any time getting down to the funkiest of musical business. Within the initial seconds of album opener “Chaga,” it is easy to tell that is going to be an uptempo horn-filled groove session. “Chaga” really sets the mood for an album filled with rhythmic percussion, funk guitars, stabbing horns, overdriven keys and solid bass lines.
While there is a heavy funk sound throughout the album, there is also a great amount of afrobeat influence as well. The mostly instrumental songs give The Funk Ark room to let their horns, keys and guitars provide the memorable melodies. The interesting combinations of heavily rhythmic riffs and drum/percussion interplay reminds me of both 70’s soundtracks and a cleaner, more fusion-based version of recent Daptone recordings.
While the album is mostly consistent and comfortably predictable in sound, there are a few surprises, such as title track “High Noon.” This song starts off with a surf-tinged guitar line before working itself into a mid-tempo groove that is filled with dramatic horns. If we think were to think of High Noon as a soundtrack to a humid desert adventure, this song would be the backdrop to a well-organized bank robbery.
There are pros and cons to the songs on High Noon sounding very similar in nature. On the positive side, every song fits together in a way that creates a cohesive listening experience. This makes it a great album to put on in the background of social gatherings or long car rides. On the down side, the album’s repetitiveness may cause listeners to lose interest after just a few spins. While I find The Funk Ark’s sound very enjoyable, it would be hard for me to personally recommend a certain track on High Noon over another — they’re all great, but they’re better when presented as a whole.
In fact, it is because these songs are better as a collection that I really appreciate this album. These days it is becoming harder and harder to find a record that flows naturally from start to finish, but High Noon seems to have a natural flow. The Funk Ark have relied on their musical their strengths and ended up with an album that is free of filler and questionable style shifts.
I recommend High Noon for those who enjoy instrumental funk, strong percussion, harmonious horns and upbeat soundtracks. This album is currently in regular rotation at SCAD Atlanta Radio and is also available on ESL Music (www.eslmusic.com)
By Dylan Fagan