Portland’s most beloved underground house venue and record label has released another fantastic live recording to its ever growing collection. Banana Stand Media has been hosting and recording local bands in their basement studio for several years, documenting the continuously evolving landscape of the music scene. The newest addition to the Banana Stand archive of live recordings features the instrumental funk arrangements of the Polyrhythmics.
Polyrhythmics are an insanely talented eight-piece band with a massive sound blending funk, jazz, and soul melodies that are carried out by afro-beat rhythms. Through a main framework of funk, the songs progressively extend as seasoned musicians transition in and out of solos with each other. If you like funk music and long technical arrangements, then this is the Banana Stand album for you. Here’s the breakdown.
It opens with a hard-hitting number set in a mildly high tempo and plays a true representation to what the Polyrythmics do as a band. They are horn heavy but in a subtle way. The trumpet is in front of the music but the trombone keeps it from taking over. This first track, “Labrador” features a long and impressive saxaphone solo that smoothly works it's way back into the rhythm. Changeing the pace slightly, the next song “Le Hustle” is a slower funk groove that is brought alive by a vibrant horn section and prominent bass tone. While it’s well known that songs in any subcategory of funk are heavily bass driven, halfway through the album, the songs reach a high level of bass-driven-ness. Let’s just say that if the bass on "The Octagon" were a chicken wing sauce at Fire On The Mountain, it would rank in at El Jefe. Which is fitting because the final track on the album is called “El Fuego.” There is a definite mariachi influence on this one with bright use of trumpet and a weirdly driving rhythm.
A polyrhythm by definition is more than one rhythm working together within a single beat. It’s a part of music that often gets lost in the art of songwriting when things get too overly simplified. Polyrhythmics have not let go of the little technical things when making their music, and when executed perfectly like on this record, you come away with some of the best genuine art. Not only that, this band, and their time capsuled recording from the Banana Stand will make you move a little to boot. Also check out the video for "Labrador" shot during the set!
- Colin Hudson
Polyrhythmics - "Labrador" from Banana Stand Media on Vimeo.