Laura Botsford – “Aquarium Funk” Album Review
Laura Botsford is an artist. And I don’t just mean in the musical sense. Visual arts are also a creative outlet for her. Collages seem to be a speciality of hers and when it comes to music, this also seems to be her strength, musical collages, or as Laura calls them “I coalesce the vapors”.
This album fuses a number of genres and collects a wide variety of instruments as well. The danger with this style of production, is amalgamating mismatched themes and instruments, leading to a cacophony of sound that never settles down to be a listenable, engaging tune. Well thankfully, Laura has not fallen into that unfortunate, well worn rut, that so many producers end up in. “Aquarium Funk” is engaging and musical on so many levels and well worth your listening time.
If you are a fan of Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul and a melting pot of groove based sounds, then you’ve found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with this 13 track album. Or as Laura herself has described it ,”Aquarium Funk is an innovative compendium of cool with wings, hip with the hap of old school meets break out contemporary jazz fusions of capriccio tuneful funky charm.”
Track 1: Aquarium Funk: Channels James Brown with cool horn parts, grooving bass, funky guitar & lovely keyboard parts divided between Hammond organ & Rhodes electric piano. Quite a groove based ride as it weaves in and out of mellow & solid funk.
Track 2: Clemies Jazz Club: Cool 12 bar blues shuffling tune, gives way to a mixture of laid back musical themes and instruments.
Track 3: Miles: As the name suggests, this is a homage to Miles Davis. Very breezy feeling on this relaxing tune, guaranteed to help you “Chill out”! The vocal addition is like a breath of fresh air, not to mention the lovely bird samples that reinforce that relaxing vibe.
Track 4: Chet’s Dream: Electric piano intro overlayed with mellow trumpet is then accompanied by female vocal scat singing, that takes you into another world. With layered reverb, this tune makes you feel like you are floating in a beautiful, safe place, that you won’t want to leave.
Track 5: Feel Good: Once again trumpet & electric piano set the scene for a reverb drenched, chilled out tune. There is still more than a hint of groove going on in the background to this, at times surprising piece. Surprising, in the fact that it makes twists & turns you are not expecting, but mold together as a coherent tune.
Track 6: Bluezette: Laura desribes the track in this way “Dreamscape Jazz- Melodic Sax and Sweet”. With the sweet female vocal weaving in and out of the musical “dreamscape” of this tune, the scene is set for a ride off into another world.
Track 7: My Valentine: This tune starts as a chilled tune, but quickly enters a more electronic theme than any of the other tunes on this album. Ending with a beautiful music box melody.
Track 8: Luster of Stars: As the name says, this tune really channels the musical equivalent of looking up at the stars on a dark clear night. The use of congas in this tune, really push along the tune rthymically, without hitting us over the head with a strong beat. Lovely use of floating sounds that add to the impression of a starry night.
Track 9: Way In: Lovely use of acoustic guitar & fretless bass in this tune. As the music progresses, a driving synth bass & shuffling drum beat, takes the listener on a groove infused direction.
Track 10: Street Dance: More vocal work on this tune than any of the other on the album. Laura manages to insert, guitar lead breaks, Hammond organ, upright bass, flamenco guitar, flute, vibraphone, saxaphones, Rhodes electric piano, but mold them altogether into a cohesive, danceable tune.
Track 11: The Walk: Upright bass & saxaphones start this relaxed grooving number, which despite using some synth sounds & electric guitar parts here and there, still keeps that jazzy feel throughout.
Track 12: Porch Swing: This really invokes the feeling of a hot night in the American South and the popular porch swings in that area. Infused with some lovely blues themed piano & harmonica.
Track 13: Angelic Funk: This track rounds out the album. Starting out with the vocal “Let yourself go”, this track let’s rip into a funky ride, but to give it that angelic theme, has choir style vocal in the background & a beautiful acoustic guitar lead in the quieter moments. A lovely way to finish of the “Angelic Funk” album.
Laura summed up the process of making this album, “I was exploring the fusion of Funk/Jazz with a cinematic feel as if one fell into the musical soup of all their favorite genres. Having grown up in house full of jazz, I love the improve of going off into different instruments playing off each other, and with the array of electronic samples, I found myself blending in some FX, and ambient voices to carry songs with flight of doves transitions from one style into the next.”