Aja West and Friends

There's been something simultaneously low-rent and high-minded about the progressive funk that Aja West and his Mackrosoft co-conspirators have been churning out since the late Nineties. Total Recall 2012 nails that dichotomy beautifully. The retro-futuristic vibes evoke the loose-limbed weirdness that can come only from a skilled musician set loose in a well-equipped studio, with a heart full of soul music history, a head full of insane ideas on how to improve all of it, and a bunch of friends who are, amazingly, on the same wavelength. Whether it's a devastating hook that requires little sonic assistance to be effective ("Point. Click. Drag. Drop") or a cut like the intricately groovy "2012 Suite" that blithely jams three decades of far-out funk into four minutes, the tunes that West creates are at once joyous and challenging. Total Recall is reminiscent of both the studied licentiousness of Jamie Lidell and the casual bump and groove of a Beastie Boys b-side, but somehow it's also light years from either, as West is as natural in his iconoclasm as he is with his musicianship. — Jason Ferguson

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Jason Ferguson