Vollmilch EP – Vulfpeck

Funk

It is rare to hear real funk music anymore. Funk still exists but has either retreated into the shadows or blended with other genres to create something of an offshoot. Vulfpeck is relatively new to the music scene but is working in a large way to revive the funk of old; the music that is impossible not to dance to; the music that excites the soul and energizes the mind. Count me in.

This week I am reviewing Vulfpeck’s first effort: Vollmilch EP. While this album is absent of any vocals it largely succeeds in both replicating and perpetuating funk music. Vulfpeck is reminiscent of a true funk rhythm section and features a four-member lineup playing piano, Wurlitzer piano, synthesizer, drums, percussion, pocket piano, bass, saxophone, Moog and more. Vulfpeck’s strength lies in their ability to create modern and provoking grooves that never seem to lose their momentum.

Vulfpeck was conceived as a tribute to old-time rhythm sections from an era of funk, in the 1960’s and 1970’, that has long since passed. They decided to add a German persona to the band thus the name Vulfpeck. In a sense, Vulfpeck is attempting to revive interest in a lost era of funk for a new generation and it seems to be working. Vulfpeck has garnered a good deal of attention as of recent, especially through their live performances. This is what excites me most about Vulfpeck.

I feel that Vulfpeck’s music is ultimately destined for the stage. While I have yet to see them live, I have been hearing good things. I view Vulfpeck as a similar act to Galactic (the New Orleans Jazz-Funk Jam Band). While Galactic’s recorded music is fun to listen to, their strength lies in their ability to perform live. They tour constantly, hitting many music festivals in the summer, and play instrumentals behind a diverse cast of rotating guest singers. Their music is spectacular live, fun to dance to, and no two shows are the same. Vulfpeck seems to be on a similar path which is welcome in my book. We need more of these bands.

Vollmilch is an EP so it is a bit shorter than a full album. The record clocks in at 6 songs and 26 minutes. Vollmilch starts with the intro Outro. Yep… This track opens the album with a bang and was my first exposure to the group. You instantly get smacked in the face with an irresistible funky rhythm featuring piano, drums, bass, and sax. Next up is A Walk to Remember, a swingy-soulful tune with a funky-as-hell bass line.

Adrienne & Adrianne is track three on the album and identifies Vulfpeck’s ability to play their instruments in a way that highlights each of their individual skills while never overshadowing. You would think that the piano keys would fly off the piano on the chorus of this track. The album has three tracks to follow but I will let you explore those on your own.

Every track on Vulfpeck’s Vollmilch is a keeper. Vulfpeck’s first attempt at recorded music makes it clear that they have the kinetic ability to connect with one another. I believe this talent will be exemplified through their live performances. I should mention that this EP was released in 2012 and Vulfpeck has released a few full-length albums since then including the newly released The Beautiful Game. So go ahead and check them out. If you are a fan of funk in any shape or form Vulfpeck deserves a listen. You will be glad you did.

See you next week.

Station to Station – David Bowie

Classic Rock/Funk-Rock

Station to Station is commonly regarded as a rock n’ roll masterpiece. This album is not only one of Bowie’s most unique and adventurous albums but also one of his most fabled. Recorded in 1975, released in 1976 and incredibly fun to listen to in 2017 Station to Station is a product of Bowie during one his most turbulent eras. Station is a consistently shifting, electrifying, and provocative performance fueled by sensational creativity and lots and lots of cocaine. This record transcends generations and is a must own for any rock n’ roll enthusiast.

Station to Station was recorded in Los Angeles during what has been described as a drug fueled psychotic episode. The Thin White Duke was apparently involved in all kinds of weird shit during this time and has little recollection of any of it. I even remember reading that Bowie had absolutely no memory of recording this album. Los Angeles seemed to evoke the most extreme in Bowie and after he left to return to Europe he was quoted as saying that the city should be wiped off the face of the earth. It is both strange and intriguing that such a magnificent piece of music resulted from such chaos.

In musical terms Station to Station is engaging. Racking in at 6 tracks, 38 minutes the album is fairly short with no wasted space. The album constantly changes shape through funky, serenading, and rockin’ refrains. Those who like Bowie at his funkiest will have a lot to enjoy here.

Bowie was really experimental with the recording of Station to Station. This record was produced during the era where Bowie was testing differing electronic elements and instrumental manipulations. Station is heavily synthesized in a way that helped evolve Bowie’s craft at the time and helped usher in a new era for him. Unlike many albums from that time Station to Station in no way sounds archaic. To this day I hear contemporary and ground-breaking music when I listen to Station and I feel that I always will.

The album starts off with the 10 minute title track Station to Station; a segmented track that evolves from experimental noise into funkier and funkier portions. Accompanying Bowie’s outstanding singing are ripping guitar solos, piano glissandos, and grooving basslines. By the end of the song you will most defiantly be playing air drums, guitar or bass so make sure you are aware of your surroundings and try not to hurt anyone.

Track two on the record is a Bowie familiar: Golden Years. What more can I say about Golden Years that has not already been said? It is a song seemingly about focusing on the actual and enjoying the best years of life; who can’t relate to that? Golden Years is yet another soulful jam (full of plenty of whops) and is undoubtedly the biggest hit off this album.

One of my personal favorites off Station is TVC15; a track loaded with swing piano and Elvis-esque vocals. The song was apparently influenced by Iggy Pop’s drug fueled hallucination where he believed that a TV set was attempting to eat his girlfriend. Bowie created the antagonist TCV15 for the track… or I guess you can say that Iggy did technically. Regardless, this track is really fun and I like to think of it as the centerpiece of the album.

Station to Station is a must own for any Bowie enthusiast. This is almost not even worth saying because surely all Bowie enthusiasts already own this record. If you do not, now is a good time to run over to your local record shop and pick one up on vinyl. With Station not only do we get to experience Bowie during one of his craziest time periods but we get a lively and inspired record that will cause you to reflect and dance at the same time; I guess Bowie had a habit of doing that.

See you next week.