Black Pocket Black PocketThe Album
The brotherhood of Pritchardism, the Dâmfunkian community, Dilla-ists of the world: I’m here to tell you that deacon Steve Spacek, experienced hero of the holy war of British future soul, has returned home on this foaming, robotic Bucephalus listening to the name of Black Pocket. My kingdom for a broken beat. There he is, armed to the teeth, with his shining armour of Martian grooves and hundreds of epic battles to his name. For twenty years now his scimitar has been wreaking havoc and competing with the best. He even used to be in Stex, a very cheesy dance project in the 90s, that Johnny Marr collaborated with at one point. He was also the man behind the Spacek tri, who had some kind of success in the space funk underground and got quite some critical acclaim at the start of this century. On top of that, connections with the high commanders of black music like Mos Def or J Dilla make him a respected man way beyond the borders of his native England. His link with the Detroit martyr landed him a memorable production by the master for the “Dollar” single off the album “Spaceshift” (2005). Legend has it that this was one of the last things Dilla did before taking off for the Elysian Fields. Ah, and although it doesn’t matter here, let it be said that our man is the brother of dBridge, veteran of drum’n’bass, member of the illustrious Bad Company and head honcho of Exit Recs.
Those who have been following Spacek recently in the Black Pocket format will know what the seventeen cuts on “The Album” have in store. He has been exploring the boundaries of futuristic soul for a couple of years now, sometimes applying his Martian falsetto voice to his beats or simply letting his boundless creativity and precision do their thing on instrumental pieces. This project has permitted him to find a new blade to the unstoppable harvester that is the new abstract hip-hop. Spacek seems to have found his own style moving behind the scene to pick from electronic jazz, excessive funk, intelligent soul, wonky, broken beat and of course the new alkaloid hip-hop Angeleno.
“The Album” is a record that had been lying on the shelves for three years before it was released, in spite of the little teaser Exit have been throwing at us. In any case, despite the moving speed of the underground Martian funk scene, Spacek’s compositions haven’t suffered from it – I would say some have been made for the occasion. He’s going for gold with minimal means: he looks for the experimental groove applying digital portions, like Dilla, making the beats stutter – “For Real” sounds like a broken radio that doesn’t pick up the signal– leaving silences and bending the tempo on purpose (I’m warning you, what he does on “Hanging St” can get on your nerves). Like Nabokov, as far as Spacek is concerned, the truth is in the details, i.e. in the arhythmic claps and the slaps on “Mountain”; in that kind of IDM harmonica meandering through “Other Magic”; in the dreamy-summery mood of the incredible “Amplify”.
But the best thing is that everything Black Pocket does is based on an economy of sound that can even be shocking at times. “Sta.Simonez”, for example, is minimal radicalism in soul, as if Ricardo Villalobos had decided to turn into the new Luther Vandross. By the way, speaking of legendary vocalists, those who need to hear Spacek’s Marvin Gaye-like warbles will have to hold on to their underwear to prevent it from dropping to the floor: the man sings very little, but when he does, he adds an extra dose of soul lubricant that is pure sex: check the nocturnally jazzy “Look Over Honey”, the Mayfieldian ha-ha-ha’s of “Thankyou & Credits” or the homo-erotic falsetto of “Boungie”. Old Steve has definitely been working up a sweat. Meanwhile, we will remain in our hammocks, Tequila Sunrise in our hands, Black Pocket on our iPods, working from soul to soul. Óscar Broc
Black Pocket - Boungie