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Plate Fork Knife Spoon: Plate Fork Knife Spoon (2005)

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Plate Fork Knife Spoon: Plate Fork Knife Spoon Plate Fork Knife Spoon is billed as a blend of organic hip-hop and funk-infused jazz.

I hate when people describe groove-heavy soul-jazz groups as "a blend of hip-hop and jazz. Hip-hop should showcase either a DJ or an MC—one or the other, preferably both, is at the heart of all hip-hop. Plate Fork Knife Spoon has neither. The trio, led by bassist/producer Headnodic, just plays beats. That's it. And soulful beats do not equal hip-hop (or jazz).

The band is composed of Berklee grads Kat Ouano (keys), Max MacVeety (drums), and the aforementioned Headnodic. The group previously recorded under the moniker Crown City Rockers for 2004's Earthtones, along with emcee Rashan Ahmad and DJ Zeph. Ahmad is featured here on "Wonder. Other guests include Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno and Broun Fellinis saxophonist David Boyce.

The Bay Area band's debut release for Wide Hive Records is enjoyable in parts, but ultimately it grows tiresome. Plate Fork Knife Spoon seems to have made only half a record—like a whack DJ spinning loops. Each song leaves the listener wondering when something is going to happen. But nothing ever does. Headnodic and drummer Max MacVeety just continue to play the same stoned-out grooves over and over and over again.

Soloists, when featured, never seem to dig in enough, never seem inspired enough really. Boyce is more interested in complimenting Headnodic's rolling bass and MacVeety's cross-stick drumming on "Double Dribble and "Creep, and less concerned with developing an interesting or explorative improvisation. As a soloist, he never ventures beyond the comfort of the groove—a downfall that plagues the entire record. Plate Fork Knife Spoon's debut LP is comfortable. It's is got some dance down in its soul but it's too lethargic to show and prove... feel me?

Krasno lends his touch to five of the album's thirteen tracks. The Scofield-like six-stringer is a perfect fit for the PFKS sound, as the trio doesn't sound that much different than Krasno's own soul-jazz trio, Soulive. PFKS doesn't sound that much different than Charlie Hunter, Gnappy, Groove Collective, Medeski, Martin & Wood, or the Greyboy All-Stars either, though.

Raashan Ahmed lends his neo-soul rap to the album's closing number, "Wonder. Ahmed used to run with Headnodic, Ouano, and MacVeety when the then Boston-based trio called themselves Crown City Rockers. Plate Fork Knife Spoon would have done well to invite Ahmed along for more of the ride.


Track Listing: 1. D M@#$%er F@#$%er D; 2. Double Dribble; 3. Igunalude; 4. Down in it; 5. Turbulencia; 6. Creep; 7. Point; 8. Theme from "Spacewalk"; 9. Briefcase; 10. Oyayi; 11. The Kraken; 12. Charles River; 13. Wonder (Feat. Raashan Ahmad).

Personnel: Kat Ouano, Headnodic and Max MacVeety.

Record Label: Wide Hive Records

Style: Funk/Groove


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