Pocahaunted PocahauntedMake It Real
Pocahaunted seems to have been listening to the early Funkadelic albums a lot recently and paying close attention. In fact, the most obvious influence in “Make It Real” is the freaky trilogy by George Clinton and friends, “Free You Mind and Your Ass Will Follow” (1970), “Funkadelic” (1970) and “Maggot Brain” (1971), along with a little dub and plenty of afro-funk via Africa 70. To the despair of their hard-line fans, I must add. Drone, schmone: The Los Angeles group, now under the sole leadership of Amanda Brown, after Bethany Cosentino’s recent scare, had already started the change of course in their last summer tour of Europe. But now, crystallised in an album, sounding surprisingly good, despite remaining within the margins of cavernous lo-fi, Pocahaunted seems like a totally different group to the one that put out “Passage” (Troubleman Unlimited) barely a year ago—not to mention the endless comparisons you could make to the twenty-something references that the California group has put out since 2006 in the most diverse formats, from C-40 to seven-inch vinyl.
Little, not to say nothing, remains of the old Pocahaunted, the group that headed the ranks of the new hippy drone, the ones who filled sixty-minute cassettes with barely three songs—the ones who played sitting down Indian-style with a drugged-out look on their faces. They’re still plenty out of it, and Brown continues with her characteristic tribal “oooooooooohs” and “aaaaaaaaaahs,” but starting with the cover itself, a nod to Pedro Bell’s artworks for Dr. Funkenstein, they lay their cards out on the table. “Make It Real” is a psychedelic trip with a funk and soul base, with its freak-outs ( “UFO”), its Caribbean incursions ( “Save Yrself (It’s Nice)”), and even its vindications of the black continent as the home of all rhythms ( “All Of Is Of”). But it’s not a simple exercise in style. Pocahaunted doesn’t try to emulate their idols (they do have idols—if you don’t believe me, look at the names they mention in their MySpace, from Fela Kuti to Betty Davis), among other things because their evident musical limitations don’t allow it. What they try to do is filter their influences through their own lens. And when they manage to do this, in “Touch You,” “Make It Real,” “You Do Voo Doo” or the aforementioned “All Of Is Of,” they come up with something in tune, both in spirit and even in form, with what Calvin Johnson achieved at times with Dub Narcotic Sound System: a profoundly white, blindly amateur, and decidedly nerdish interpretation of the Afro-American pop music legacy. Practically nothing.