G’DAMN THOSE DJ’S MADE MY DAY

The Herbaliser Band: Geddim!
From Session 2 (K7, 2009)

Nearly a decade after first delivering on the idea of making live band versions of their sample-based songs, The Herbaliser are back again. The live band thing, slowly but surely making its way back industry-wide, is proving to be no fad. Just as Session 1 featured no vocals, this set follows the same pattern, aside from the vocal samples sprinkled throughout.

What you get here is richer, more organic pieces that put more meat on your plate. Think of the originals as appetizers and the Sessions albums as the main entree. The difference is comparable to hearing the original sample-based versions of N.E.R.D.’s “In Search Of…” or Pharrell’s “In My Mind” and then hearing their live-band reworkings with Spymob and ?uestlove and crew, respectively. It’s night and day, and after hearing the full-band jazz and funk it up you don’t want to go back. The snares have more snap, the bass is a bit juicier, and the sax has more swagger.

The lead single, “Geddim!,” is pure spy movie chase scene material. It moves, it darts, and it throws things in your way as it turns the corner. Just as you’re about to catch up, it jumps a fence and you’re left pausing for a moment to catch your breath before resuming the chase. The album is not all cat-and-mouse, though. The closer “Stranded On Earth” is an almost mournful piece that moves from weeping to crying before the song’s end.

Even though Session 2 covers material spanning 12 years, it sounds quite cohesive. It’s freaked-out acid jazz/funk with a bit of turntable thrown in for good measure. While brighter in tone than Portishead, I haven’t heard mood music like this since, well… Portishead’s first 2 albums, which I hold in very high regard. And while Session 2 may not be as genre-bending, musically it certainly belongs in the same conversation with its strong aural aesthetics.

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