The Chameleon Project - Funk ‘n’ Space
The Chameleon Project is based out of the Toronto, Canada area and has established a growing reputation as one of the most inventive young acts working today. The four piece’s eight track (excluding two remixes tacked on at the end) release Funk n Space shows them to be one of the foremost units today in terms of creating a fusion of various styles into a distinctive and highly unique sound. They are just as adept with the traditional elements of great music, like melody, as they are at invoking heady atmospherics with their use of electronica and spoken word passages in conjunction with one another. There is a strong underpinning of tradition making these songs go, but the surfeit of experimentation that colors the songs is equally key to making these tracks work. It’s never self indulgent however. Even at their most daring, there’s a mastery of fundamentals that makes this material fly.
Few songs better exemplify that than the opener “Milky Way”. The aforementioned atmospherics are a big part of its success, thanks especially to the even handed manner with which they are handled, but another key part of the success is the chemistry struck between the band’s instrumentals. The rhythm section, above all else, makes the groove manifest itself deeply and instantly. It isn’t a track, however, that browbeats listeners into submission. Instead, it’s spacey overtones and a well defined funk sound that never overstays its welcome. “Playhouse” takes things in a different direction. It’s much more superficially simple, but there’s clear evidence for their versatility They are capable of bringing out a strong layered disco and funk influence in their music without ever overburdening the song with too much action. “Steppin’” certainly beefs up the customarily streamlined approach of reggae music and the form’s influence is quite heavy in the song, but The Chameleon Project is able to bring that influence to the fore while still embellishing the track with a number of their signatures elements – sounds that would have been quite foreign to the genre’s bygone icons.
They go down the electronic dance music road in the biggest way yet with the song “Reactor”, but tweak listeners’ expectations by bringing rock overtones into play. The often beautiful guitar lines, however, never sound out of place with the synthesizer work. The following song, “Bigfoot”, steers the band toward much more definite rock music territory thanks to the thunderous rhythm section, but The Chameleon Project fortunately avoids the bash and thud so often associated with attempts to bring these influences into play. “DiMiTri cOde” recalls the earlier “Reactor” in its invocation of EDM elements, but things are played much straighter here in that regard and there’s little of the rock guitar poses here that we heard in the earlier tune. Funk n Space ends with the album’s seeming centerpiece – the six minute twenty six second “Wako”, a cinematic and bold confluence of all the aforementioned sounds into a stunning last curtain that stakes the band’s claim as one of the foremost instrumental acts (sans the aforementioned spoken word bits – not a significant amount of the album’s duration) working today.
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