Between Here and Now (Guidance)

In the Seventies, funk took soul and disco and fucked 'em up, twisted 'em around, and tripped 'em out. It got people to strut around like a chicken, telling them it was okay to get busy on the shag carpet. Funk took people to another place.

Strangely, the genre doesn't have such a great track record in electronic music. What has passed as "electronic funk" may not be as bad as Venice Beach slap bass, or -- God help us -- white-boy Parliament impersonators, but its funk has been remarkably uninspired: Take some hip-hop beats, drop some "funky" bass, and add a soulful singer, and you've got Morcheeba. Most of it is music ready-made for the Gap.

But that's precisely why Between Here and Now, the debut release from L.A. electronic group Projections, is such a pleasant surprise. It's funky, moody downtempo that doesn't have to wear a diaper onstage to get your attention.

What sets BHAN apart is its groove variation. The basslines are elastic, funky, and vaguely seductive -- slightly reminiscent of Motown soul, but at the same time skillfully accentuated with warm keyboard harmonies, blaxploitation guitar licks, some horns, and atmospheric electronica. The cuts have a palpable mood, playing like a soundtrack for a stoned drive down Santa Monica Boulevard at three in the morning.

Halfway through the CD amid soft maracas, hand drums, and gentle keys, a sampled voice declares, "That's the groove right there." It's a tacit acknowledgement to the listener: "You feeling that? Good; stay with it and we'll get you to where you need to be."

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