Sophisticated Collective Music: SNARKY PUPPY

Snarky Puppy
Snarky Puppy

In these depressing times that we have experienced in Turkey for quite a long time, there is nothing better than music that makes you get away from it all. Moreover, if this music comes to your town, it is a disgrace not to get lost in it. I am talking about Snarky Puppy, whom I discovered with their latest album “groundUP” thanks to their agency Good Music Company.

Michael League, bass player, founded Snarky Puppy in 2004 in Texas. They make collective music with over 25 rotating musicians from New York and Dallas. The core members are Robert “Sput” Searight (Snoop Dogg) on drums, Shaun Martin (Erykah Badu) on keyboard, Cory Henry (Kenny Garrett) on organ and multi-instrumentalist Louis Cato (Marcus Miller, George Duke). The band consisting of that many musicians inspired by various music styles might have turned into a chaos, in contrast, they created a sophisticated and groovy style with jazz, funk, rock, hip hop, soul and ethnical features. On top of that, there are no written compositions. The compositions – maybe it’s better to say ‘’themes’ – are performed in a different way in each tour, thus, the music is in non-stop modification. In addition, each band member is extremely important as his or her contribution to music is equal. If a member is absent, they do not perform. This much dedication to music is one of the reasons that make the band stand out from the crowd.

I would like to review the “groundUP” album as I listened to it first and so many times and I think they will probably play songs mainly from this album in their upcoming gig in Istanbul. Another feature of this album is that it was recorded live in front of an audience at the studio so you can feel the gig mood more. The opener “Thing of Gold” invites you to a sunny beach. Synthesizer’s riffs are unforgettable and then waves of brass section makes you stuck around. While feeling good, the guitar riffs and the brass section in “Bent Nails” welcome you to the waters of soul music. “Minjor” starts as an energetic hard rock song and calms down in the middle. The next minute is the time when southern country-rock style guitar proclaims its kingdom. I like the 60s rock, funk and garage feeling of this song. Having got into the album groove with the first three songs, “Binky” pushes you to the climax. It is a powerful song woven layer by layer. It starts with African-style percussions and the swirling brass section takes the lead. Fading into a silence in the middle, the song makes you think that it has finished, however, it stretches into hip-hop and 70s gangsta-funk with its synth bass, broken beats and tinkling piano. Once again, the band leads us into soul music with “Mr. Montauk”, which is deliberately composed. “Like A Light” is the pop music reflection of the band’s refined taste. “Young Stuff” keeps the mood up with its funk-soul taste while preparing a nice foundation for an expressive bass solo through the end. The final song, “Quarter Master” is an energetic one flavoured with swing and soul spices. The brass section and the piano pay homage to New Orleans and the song invites everybody for a dance in the streets.

Snarky Puppy is a very good example of master musicians’ collective. The band having an original expression and a rich sound palette is praise-worthy. I have read an article about them claiming that they can even be a rival for Robert Glasper’s Experiment Black Radio, which I can not disagree. I love Snarky Puppy’s ability to keep the groove high as they themselves say: “Music to move the brain and booty.” Apart from their musicianship, their greatest strength manifests itself in their integrity, and their devotion to music while establishing fun both for the audience and themselves. Snarky Puppy will perform at Salon on 23rd October in Istanbul. I believe they will fly us high during their live performance. I think we should get ready for a collective energy blast! Not to be missed!

Discography:

Live at Uncommon Ground (2005), The Only Constant (2006), The World Is Getting Smaller (2007), Bring Us the Bright (2008), Tell Your Friends (2010), groundUP (2012), Family Dinner (2013)

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