Niclas Knudsen: Radio Timbuktu (2014)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Imagine a radio in the middle of a desert playing music that is a mixture of tribal rituals, dusty blues and rock, Afrobeat and New Orleans jazz. This radio exists and it is located on Danish guitarist Niclas Knudsen's album Radio Timbuktu.
Many people will know Knudsen from his involvement with the funk group Ibrahim Electric, but Knudsen is a restless musical explorer and this is reflected on an album where he enlists many of his favorite musicians. He builds his group around guitar, drums and a powerful brass section with trumpet, trombone and tuba.
A poignant example of the eclectic nature of Knudsen's music is "The Big Gundown," a strange stew that unites influences from Ennio Morricone's western music, Arabic scales, slide guitar blues and a reference to the standard "My Favorite Things."
This is music filled with funk and rhythm. The master of Afrobeat, Fela Kuti, is saluted on "Fela Boogie" where the brass rhythms bounce and Knudsen plays with wah-wah guitar.
"Low, Down, Dirty" is a reflective blues. Knudsen lets the notes slide and gradually the brass section enters with slow, mournful motifs. However, at heart of it all is the rhythm and the closer "Lagos Frequency" underlines that this is a group that likes to have a party and it is hard to refuse the invitation when hearing the sounds of Radio Timbuktu.
Track Listing: Ella; The Big Gundown; Le Funk Mystique; Taste the Medicine; Fela Boogie; Tiger Lily; Low, Down, Dirty; Lagos Frequency.
Personnel: Niclas Knudsen: guitar; Lars Vissing: trumpet; Mads Hyhne: trombone; Jacob Munck: tuba, tenor-horn, trombone; Mads Andersen: drums.
Record Label: Gateway Music