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CD REVIEW: Eric Terdjman - Galactic Funk
By Alex Jasperse - 09/18/2007 - 09:16 PM EDT

Artist: Eric Terdjman
Album: Galactic Funk [2007]
Label: Independent
Website: http://www.galactic-funk.com
Genre: Electro-Jazz, Acid Jazz and Post Bop
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7.5/10
Songwriting Skills: 6.0/10
Performance Skill: 7.0/10
CD Review:

From start to finish, Eric Terdjman’s latest release, Galactic Funk, is a combination of thirteen beat-driven electro-jazz and post bop pieces that are designed to offer nothing more than a good time. Its crisp electronic emphasis combines elements of Air’s avant-garde jazz qualities, some of Jamiroquai’s playfulness and Daft Punk’s dance beats, into an experience that serves to remind how intoxicating the right groove can be. 

“Baby Need You” sweeps in with a deep bass hook and a nice electro-jazz groove that sets much of the album’s pace, and immediately makes a call for out for anyone in the room to get on the dance floor. A reserved trumpet solo dips in midway through, followed by an electric guitar that reintroduces various elements from the introduction, and just as things begin to cool off, the smooth cut “Funky Party” enters with rhythmic digitized vocals that begin to chant the title. Rearranging and breaking up the steady beat, the wet guitar wahs that had previously dipped in and out, cut through with a 1970s funk flavour, while synths occasionally tug for attention, before getting pushed into the background by the snare.

Deliberate or not, “Collision” is a reminder that you don’t always need more than a few instruments matched with the right beats to create an intoxicating equation. Almost a throwback to all things that defined 1980s synthesized musics, a car takes off in the near distance, an early IDM beat enters, and warping synths slide in and out to top it all off. A police siren temporarily shakes things up before it returns to the original beat, while scattered drum fills eventually collapse into the electronic ballad, “Easy Life.” Flowing with the same movement as the first three pieces, digitized vocals croon a hard-to-decipher life-story that upon further listen is surprisingly rich in its poetic imagery.

By the time the title track enters, it’s pretty obvious that Terdjman has followed a master plan that has been tested in various degrees throughout the first five tracks. “Galactic Funk” returns to a (now) familiar ascending melodic movement, while breathy female vocals trace the digital vocals, warming it and the drums up with a slightly sweeter tone. It’s nice to know that things continue to stay somewhat warmer in “Do You Remember Me?,” but when traces of more-human vocals enter, you feel compelled to immediately answer the song title with: “No, actually. I don’t remember you. But I think I want to.”

What may be the biggest turn off about Galactic Funk is its case of vocoder overindulgence. Transformers vocals are cool for a while – or if you really, really, really love Jean Michel Jarre's and Kraftwerk’s digitized vocal experimentation. And considering that there isn’t enough low-end to flesh out the overly crisp and trebly features on the vast majority of the album, by “Dream” the album borders on headache inducing. Aside from the vocoder simply being annoying, perhaps the most unfortunate thing is the fact that Terdjman has subsequently disguised twelve well-written sets of lyrics in digital effects – making most of the singing incomprehensible.

Aside from “Believe Me” sprinkling some more IDM beats in the beginning, Galactic Funk carries on with a cold funk, electro and techno direction. “My Life” brings the trumpet back for another round, but its reservation from resolving the majority of its phrases, colours the track with an odd dissonance. “Orbital,” “Souls” and “Jam” revisit previous ideas that had already been explored to the same depths, which makes the excessive repetition by this point rather piercing and tedious.

Galactic Funk is rather tiresome to contemplate, compare and explore each track to its fullest because too many pieces sound the same. The collage of cheap drum machines from start to finish that exploit the repetition of a beat really doesn’t help create enough distinguishable alterations in sound, mood and texture. So it should be no surprise that Terdjman’s music becomes easily lost in an illusion of ‘sameness.’ It wouldn’t be fair to condemn Galactic Funk to being nothing more than wallpaper music, but for the progressive minded, the missing flavour from this equation is the natural musical curvature of various highs and lows: it would have done a better job at taking on the shape of an EP, rather than an album.

(Now for the last minute twist…)

None of this is to say that there isn’t any evolution, validity or emotion within Terdjman’s work. Rather, this is an album that requires the right audience for it to make any sense. As mentioned, on its own, it’s hard to digest because it’s too cold and abrasive. But its flavour becomes warm, delicious and delicate as soon as it is mixed into an environment where it can become a part of the overall atmosphere – ideally, alongside some company, good food and drinks. While Galactic Funk needs a bit of help from the listener to provide the extra ingredients to reveal its other dimension, it’s certainly worth a try.

The Verdict: 6.8/10

For more information, please contact Eric Terdjman at moonlightspace@yahoo.fr

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