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Fort Knox Five: 10 Years of the Fort Knox Five

Chris M. Slawecki By

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"All good things come in five, baby...You can't get around no prime number, you dig?"

Some music just makes you feel good. You can't explain it but some music makes you feel like life's a party and you're invited. (It's that "can't explain it" part which drives writers crazy.) 10 Years of The Fort Knox Five spills like a tray full of overfull cocktails with music that makes you feel good.

They're really a quartet—Jon Horvath, Steve Raskin, Sid Barcelona and Rob Myers, all of whom have collaborated in various editions of Thunderball and trip-hop visionaries Thievery Corporation—but they call themselves the Fort Knox Five to allow a "fifth space" for their collaborators. 10 Years of The Fort Knox Five compiles fifteen of their favorite original songs (per their website) "to commemorate their tenth year of sowing the seeds of funk." Guests appearing on this genre-spanning, globe-trotting collection include hip-hop visionary Afrika Bambaataa, Akil Dasan (Us3) and various Thievery Corporation members.

Asheru flips the switch for the opening "Insight" with a guest-star rap that's both articulate and greasy as bacon fat in the pocket of the tune's big beat groove. It's probably not too different from dozens of similar tunes; it's "merely" an invitation to jump in the party, but it's loud and proud and with just enough bounce to the ounce. This slips into "The Brazilian Hipster," a deliciously appropriate title for its stylish Brazilian groove, warm and cool, nuzzled and bumped by hip-hop drums.

"Another universal Zulu nation jam session" that features Bambaataa and King Kamonzi, "Radio Free DC" delivers the social commentary hard and funky, in a crackling, energetic sound. "Funk 4 Peace" and "Bhangra Paanch" bow toward India: Rapper Mustafa Akbar leads the sitar and electric rock guitar of "Peace" into a fist-pumping funk anthem; in "Bhangra Paanch," Beta-G chants over a pulsing rock raga that pulsates under the colorful umbrella of electronic strings and other effects. "Blowing Up the Spot" features Akil Dasan and dives back into the retro sound of '70s soul mashed up with a drum sample from the Led Zeppelin classic "D'Yer Mak'er."

"Papa Was Stoned" cleverly builds upon The Temptations' classic "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" as its foundation (especially that wobbly, introductory guitar chord), buttressed by percolating bass and percussion lines, a whirling mixmaster of modern electronic funk. "Papa Was Stoned" originally appeared on the soundtrack to Stand Up Guys (2012, Lakeshore), and makes you wonder if any other titles across these 10 Years are less obviously based on another, more famous tune.

10 Years of The Fort Knox Five is a great-sounding, well-produced party record. Every instrument is miked loud and in your face but the mix is spacious and deep and drives every tune full-throttle into funk-rock paradise—where Sly Stone might have gone had he not first gone crazy.

Track Listing: The Power of Five; Insight featuring Asheru; The Brazilian Hipster (digitally remastered); How to Start a Band featuring Ian Svenonius and Mustafa Akbar; What Make Ya Dance featuring Rootz; Stand Up (2013 Mix); Radio Free DC featuring Afrika Bambaataa and King Kamonzi (digitally remastered); Funk 4 Peace featuring Mustafa Akbar; Bhangra Paanch featuring Beta-G; Papa Was Stoned; Shift featuring Afrika Bambaata and Mustafa Akbar; Killa Soundboy featuring Sleepy Wonder and Zeebo; Once Again featuring King Kamonzi; Blowing Up the Spot featuring Akil Dasan (digitally remastered); Not Gonna Take It featuring Rootz.

Personnel: Jon Horvath, Steve Raskin, Sid Barcelona and Rob Myers: instruments and samples; Asheru: guest artist; Ian Svenonius: guest artist; Mustafa Akbar: guest artist; Rootz: guest artist; Afrika Bambaataa: guest artist; King Kamonzi: guest artist; Beta-G: guest artist; Sleepy Wonder: guest artist; Zeebo: guest artist; Akil Dasan: guest artist.

Title: 10 Years of the Fort Knox Five | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Fort Knox Recordings


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