| Quite often, attempts at blurring genre lines result in a garbled mess that
doesn't please fans of any of the blended genres. However, once in a rare
while a group comes along that can transcend genres while simultaneously
uniting them. Kudu is one of those groups.|
Kudu's blend of drum-n-bass, R&B, and hip-hop is greater than the sum of its
parts. Musically, this crew is hard to touch. Vocally, the only comparison
is Erykah Badu. And as far as all-around versatility, no other band of its
sort comes to mind.
It's funny because usually press packs included with discs are nothing more
than fluff that inaccurately overstates the artist's talents and vision. But
surprisingly, Kudu's bio sheet is full of dead-on statements.
"Imagine a fusion of Betty Carter, Sara Vaughn, and Erykah Badu and you
begin to arrive at the sultry vocals of Kudu's singer/lyricist/bassist Sylvia
Gordon." Gordon's vocals sure enough are among the best I've laid ears on
since I first heard Erykah Badu's "On and On." Gordon has wonderful control
and range, incredibly smooth tone, and her lyrics are poetic.
"Imagine a human rhythm machine who plays with a jazz drummer's touch, but
also possesses the rhythm, raw speed and creativity present in the best of
DJ-produced cuts." Drummer Deantoni Parks provides hip-hop backdrops with
ease ("Surprise," "Cannibal") while also swinging fusion-like jazz ("Tell Me
a Bedtime Story"). What's most impressive, though, is when Parks takes on
drum-n-bass. His beats on cuts like "Sugar" and "Cinemajik" aren't sampled:
he plays them live. Absolutely impressive, considering his beats are as fast
as the fastest jungle track from the UK.
"Surrounded by a virtual fortress of keyboards, it's hard to tell whether
[keyboardists Nick Kasper and Peter Stoltzman] are charting the ocean bed in
the control room of a submarine or creating the ambient vibe that rests at
the heart of Kudu." While I admittedly am not a huge fan of keyboards, I
have always dug the 1970s jazz fusion-style keys. Fortunately, that's what
Kapser and Stolzman deliver -- not obnoxious "smooth jazz" keys, but wicked,
ambient keys that provide an appropriate sonic backdrop for Sylvia Gordon's
vocals. If you dug the acid jazz movement of the mid-90s, you have an idea
of what to expect.
Kudu is impressive from beginning to end, constantly weaving in and out of,
in between and around, and cutting right through genres. If I had to pick a
favorite cut, though, it would be "Surprise" (which aptly describes most of
the album). The basic hip-hop drum patterns combined with simple, but
effective, keyboard arrangements and basslines perfectly accentuate Gordon's
gorgeous nouveau-soul vocals.
Hands down, Kudu's debut disc will be the year's surprise hit. It will also
be a definite contender for album of the year.
"Kudu, their self-titled debut album, is a mixture of catchy hooks,
frenetic drum-n-bass rhythms, and innovative sonic textures." Wow... the
press pack was right again.
You can find out more about Kudu at www.velourmusic.com.