I wasn’t sold on this to begin with – but I stuck with it. Chico Mann (or Marcos Garcia) is a solo artist but beyond that, around that, he’s collaborated with The Roots, Dam Funk and TV on the Radio. All good names and the New York multi-instrumentalist brings an organic jazziness to his dance music, with little twists of bouncy pop, that is at the least endearing. And sometimes quite invigorating.
Slices of Chic-like/lite guitar run alongside the big, happy, easy hook of Edge Of It, and there’s a nice hip-hop rhythmic framework to the Kendra Morris-featuring Same Old Clown. I know this won’t sell it to a lot of people, but it’s like a really good Jamiroquai track. And by really good Jamiroquai track what I’m really trying to say is, given Morris’ star turn, it’s actually a bit like the Sheila E turn on Prince’s great B-side, Erotic City.
Phew! I’ve got you back…
Some of the generic dance grooves and vamps (as on Long Time Gone) aren’t so much irritating as just a teensy bit naff, but there’s still a way into these tunes. There’s an easy groove inside the song – and if one or two of the songs blitz by without too much second thought that’s okay because there are a few standouts.
Magic Touch has a super-cool bounce to it and subverts old-school hip-hop chant-alongs, Esta Bueno feels like the forgotten moments on any Daft Punk record and I Feel It (featuring Alecia Chakour) plays around with the groove on the intro to MJ’s Wanna Be Starting Somethin’ before startin’ something entirely different, a stop-start dancefloor wonder that goes back to the old Philly productions and will have you rifling through your old 80s soundtracks to find those tracks that – though deemed obscurities – can so totally work. (Clearly that’s what Chico has done).
There’s nothing here that’s classic/must-have but there’s some nice marauding through 1980s influences, a touch of Prince again on Vengo a Ti, hints too of the Miami Sound Machine’s conga-line shuffle soundtracks and then on Oye, Mira it’s the Eno-as-reimagined-by-Cliff Martinez feel that has appeared on some of Martinez’ recent soundtracks. That, and just a touch of Moroder’s lighter moments. Well, it’s enough to hang to anyway.