Rocket Juice And The Moon – Rocket Juice And The Moon *2012 Year*



01) (03:04) 1-2-3-4-5-6
02) (04:10) Hey, Shooter ft. Erykah Badu
03) (05:03) Lolo ft. Fatoumata Diawara & M.anifest
04) (02:12) Night Watch
05) (01:49) Forward Sweep
06) (03:57) Follow-Fashion ft. Fatoumata Diawara & M.anifest
07) (02:37) Chop Up ft. M.anifest & M3nsa
08) (03:24) Poison ft. Damon Albarn
09) (02:39) Extinguished ft. Cheick Tidiane Seck
10) (02:02) Rotary Connection
11) (02:24) Check Out
12) (04:51) There
13) (01:16) Worries
14) (02:34) Benko ft. Fatoumata Diawara & Damon Albarn
15) (02:57) The Unfadable ft. M.anifest
16) (02:26) Dam(n) ft. Erykah Badu & M.anifest
17) (03:00) Fatherless
18) (02:07) Leave-Taking

High up in the skies, amongst the clouds, Rocket Juice & The Moon was born.
Literally. It happened back in 2008, when Damon Albarn, Flea and Tony Allen convened
on the same Lagos flight, to play and exchange musical ideas in that city as part of
the Africa Express collective. Relishing a shared enthusiasm for one another’s work,
and bonding immediately, there and then the triumvirate laid down the blueprint for
Rocket Juice.

Still, more than a year passed before conditions were set for three weeks together at
Albarn’s West London studio, recording and refining two-dozen startlingly out and
deeply funky instrumental grooves. The next stage was to invite onboard some
extremely talented friends, with further sessions in Dallas, New York, Chicago and
Paris… Erykah Badu, no less, queen of contemporary soul. Three companions from
Africa Express: Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, whose debut album has topped World
Music charts since its release last Autumn; her multi-talented compatriot Cheick
Tidiane Seck, whose prodigious keyboardism has lit up releases by artists ranging
from Youssou N’Dour to Hank Jones; the young, Ghanaian rapper M.anifest, quizzically
existential, switching seamlessly between Twi and English. And the Hypnotic Brass
Ensemble, long-time stalwarts in the Honest Jon’s set-up – since one of the team ran
into them busking near the shop in Portobello Road… Finally, the tracks were
dispatched for mixing to Berlin, to be meticulously honed, polished and envenomed by
Mark Ernestus, one half of the legendary Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound

The result is Rocket Juice & The Moon – a triumphant exploration and proliferation of
kinetic Afro-funk rhythms: organic, exuberant, communal music-making. From the
inaugural bars – that absurdly funky slice of instructional timekeeping, 1-2-3-4-5-6

  • the liquid pulse of Fela Kuti’s classic recordings drives the action through a

suite of 18 shape-shifting compositions. The greatest drummer in the world has never
sounded so good as he does here. His intricate cross-patterns jostle and lock with
Flea’s nimble, rumbling bass riffs. Joined by Seck on There and Extinguished – “when
you dispose of something burning, be sure it’s out” – Albarn’s keyboards spray synth
fusillades up top, over, and under… splicing into the mess of wires running between
the freaked Afro-disco of William Onyeabor and the space-jazz-moog of Sun Ra. The HBE
brings extra intensity and drama to Leave-Taking – likewise Flea’s trumpet to Rotary
Connection – teasing out the haunting melody coiled in the mix.

Where the best of vintage Afrobeat sides sustained their concentrated energies over
the course of sprawling, marathon jams, RJ & TM manages something altogether
different: the group bottles the idiom into capsules of funk… and real songs.
Beautifully buoyed by Erykah Badu’s unmistakable vocals, Hey, Shooter brilliantly
traverses metaphysical spaceways sans any semblance of noodling. Lolo and
Follow-Fashion – featuring the open-hearted sensuality of Diawara’s singing,
M.anifest’s quick, brawny science, and more brass blasts – play like its musical
cousins or codas. Indeed, the album’s shrewd sequencing creates the composite effect
of tracks working both individually or within the context of an extended song-cycle.

The lovely ballad, Poison, is bittersweet and ruminative: “If you’re looking for
love, beware the signs / They will paralyze you one by one / Poison, it will only
break your heart.” Down-tempo and dubby, Check Out and Worries amplify the range of
styles and moods. And by the time of Fatherless – a chugging Afro blues that evokes
John Lee Hooker lost in Lagos, one gets the sneaking suspicion there’s very little
outside the reach of this collective’s inventive musical grasp.

There is, in fact, a palpable openness pervading Rocket Juice & The Moon – the sense
of a limber willingness to follow creative impulse – right down to how the group
acquired its name. When Ogunajo Ademola – the Lagotian commissioned to do the album’s
cover artwork – dubbed his submission “Rocket Juice & The Moon”, it quickly morphed
into the formal name of the project, like trying to hold onto mercury.

Surely, the stars above also approved.

Chairman Jefferson Mao, New York City, 2012.

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