fo/mo/deep – Eclecticism
We have to be fair about this release when it comes to putting it up against the Funk-o-Meter because we reached out to fo/mo/deep to request their CD for review based on a review done by ReverbNation that gave it high funk marks. Any time that we hear someone label something as highly funky, we have to check it out ourselves and give it the good old fashioned Funk litmus test.
The CD entitled Eclecticism is instrumental with exception to the track entitled Expansions. However, there really is little need for vocals on this album since the instrumentation should be the primary focus here. There are no fast moving parts or sleepy grooves here since all of the tracks are presented in a mid-tempo fashion that could probably be sewn together to create a tapestry of similar BPM’s. Every song is designed to be enjoyed and retrospected in a perfect middle ground. From unusual busy bass lines and snappy drums to the bleeding horns throughout, there’s nothing underwhelming in the delivery and every note seems to have purpose. Lest we forget the quirky song titles such as Kiggundu’s Bazaar and Mitch Betta Have My Bunny that beg for you to listen just to see what could warrant such a labeling.
The main misinterpretation with pigeonholing fo/mo/deep into the funk corner, as with most bands of this caliber, is that the music comes across as much more freeform funk when heard live than what gets captured on recordings. This is the same anomaly that has plagued bands like Tower Of Power, Deep Banana Blackout, and Robert Randolph for years. See them live and you’re convinced that they’re the funkiest band you’ve ever seen. Buy the CD and you’re listening to what seems like loose fitting jazz standards. But fo/mo/deep manages to keep their funk edge on the recordings which is a feat in itself that hasn’t been accurately accomplished since Headhunters. Although, fo/mo/deep thought enough about this possibility to have graced the CD with two live closing tracks including Giant FONKY Steps and the aforementioned Mitch Better Have My Bunny.
To fo/mo/deep‘s credit, this album is very clean and is well crafted jazz musicianship at its best. The Ohio collective has a very eclectic group of musicians (hence the album name), but all are very well established in the Ohio jazz community and their brotherhood is evident on this recording. There isn’t a weak link in this group. All of the full blown members break out their talents on their respective instruments such as mixing up bass styles (fretted, stand up, 6 strings), horns (tenor, alto & flute), pianos (electric, grand and organ), drums and percussion (drums, African & Indian percussion loops & standard percussion).
The bass riffs are fast and tight, the drums are clean and in the pocket, the horns take advantage of every possible melody opportunity they can within arrangements, the keys are tickled and woven throughout, and the percussion is placed with the perfect spatial conservatism to not be over-the-top or annoying. All in all, a very relaxing album that creates soft infusions of jazz and funk melded very well for background driving music, work music, or just plain headphone nirvana.
While we would love to give it a perfect 5 out of 5, it doesn’t meet the full blown funk effect, so we’re giving it a 4 out of 5. Not because it doesn’t deserve a perfect score for its production prowess and excellent musicianship, but because we have to judge under the guise of who we are here as Funkatopians. If we weren’t behind this wall, it would definitely take home the prize of a perfect score.
If you’re looking for a full blown bass heavy funk fix, this isn’t it. But if your love of funk is more on the fence with acid jazz, this would well be worth a purchase. Listen to some tracks and get it here!
– as reviewed by Mr. Christopher
2 thoughts on “fo/mo/deep – Eclecticism”
As someone who’s seen them from their first show on, I highly recommend this CD . I’ve used their music as a bed when hosting Jazz Sunday on WCBE and headlined them on the Jazz Stage at Comfest. As someone with lots of choices of bands, I keep returning to fo/mo/deep when I need to get my groove on. Festival/club bookers, they will get your crowd dancing!