Grammy award winning jazz collective Snarky Puppy have released a new album that is nothing short of brilliant. This eight track record draws various influences from the band’s journey throughout the world, translating their experience into tunes worth remembering. Noteworthy in Immigrance is the distinct sound of afro grooves and middle eastern elements that interlace perfectly with funk rock progressions.
Opener ‘Chonks’ introduces itself with a classic reggae beat transitioning to a groovy funk tune, setting the tone. Just when the listener begins to wonder about the horn section, it waltzes in and dominates the song. ‘Chonks’ is the perfect introduction to the album, a relaxing taster of what to expect next. All the elements fitting together neatly for an easy listen. The ending is particularly interesting as it becomes evident that the song is reaching its zenith. The guitar solo amidst middle-eastern melodies is a time-honoured Snarky Puppy twist.
Similar to ‘Chonks’, ‘Bigly Strictness’ is slow-paced, warming up the senses and allowing them to take in the musicality of the entire band. The design of this track is such that the listener is able to visualise the band’s instrumentation very clearly and soak in the experience completely. The song melds traditional Chinese and African beats with an underlying jazz influence. Only Snarky Puppy possess the dexterity to compose a song of this calibre and make it sound effortless. At the end of the track, one cannot help but admire the drum jam, featuring a darbuka, along with the guitar synth that builds up to a climactic horn section.
‘Coven’ is a journey in itself, and the confluence of the horn section, keyboard and guitars pronounce a beautiful, soothing melody. A funky bassline supports the song throughout, emanating a mature jazz effect. The crescendo features light vocal improvisations, eventually fading out in the background. Following this is ‘Bling Bling’, a departure from the first three tracks. While it uses typical jazz improvisations and and confluences with a funky rhythm section, it takes a while to reach the heights of the earlier tracks. Once there, the exemplary percussion work does not go amiss.
‘Xavi’ is an absolute masterpiece and a personal favourite. Snarky Puppy deliver a tight, groovy track. A potpourri of jazz, funk, and traditional Moroccan instrumentation. Michael League showcases his skill, yet again, in ‘Xavi’. Chaabi music, a Moroccan delight, is featured with the use of instruments like the Bendir, Darbouka and Krakeb. The brilliance of this nine minute track is in the groove – a funky bassline forcing the listener to pay attention to its musicality.
‘While We’re Young’ and ‘Bad Kids To The Back’ make a neat pair. While the former is breezy, standing on the keys and horn section, the latter seems like a groovier continuation. The word “groove” cannot be used enough to describe this album.
‘Even Us’ begins with a traditional Turkish/Arabic tune, further reflecting the integration of world music. It’s the perfect ending to this album, and the slow, melancholic strain signals that this is the last track. The first half of this song is a passage back in time, to kingdoms, royalty, power and traditions, building to a dramatic close.
Immigrance will be a powerful live spectacle, and without doubt will touch many hearts thanks to its cultural richness. This is an album for young and old alike. Snarky Puppy once again proving that they are a band with a unique, inimitable sound.
Snarky Puppy will perform at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin later this year, on November 12.