New Orleans' Galactic has been a tireless road horse since its formation in the early '90s, carrying on the Crescent City's funkily rockin' jazz and soul legacy in a manner befitting disciples of the Meters and Dr. John. In the past two years, the group has found itself inundated by hip-hop culture, sharing the stage with genre-hopping band the Roots and turntable virtuosos Kid Koala and Z-Trip, just to name a few.
With the hip-hop seed planted by live collective ventures, Galactic decided to make a record that would nurture a new sound, enlisting the help of supercool producer Dan "the Automator" Nakumura. As a producer, he's like a painter, using each musician, voice, loop, and sample as a color in his palette, painting each stroke with the final sonic masterpiece in mind.
On Ruckus, drummer Stanton Moore is more than just a color; he is the entire canvas. Saxophonist Ben Ellman lays off his horn for the most part, opting for a fuzzed-out harmonica and a group of loops and bloops created on ProTools. Vocalist Theryl "the Houseman" DeClouet appears on a few tracks, including a cover of General Public's "Tenderness" and "Never Call You Crazy," a get-up-and-go juke-joint tune that is one of the album's best. The songs are not condensed jam monsters but rather furious beasts of improvisation lying in wait. There are songs on Ruckus that could be singles but have unlimited potential in live situations. Unfortunately, there are just as many that are too similar to one another and therefore forgettable, tracks that will fade into the dark reaches of the band's repertoire.
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