Published Mar 04, 2016Man oh man, Hot Chip's Rob Smoughton (alter-ego Grovesnor, and former percussionist for '80s group Scritti Politti) sure seems to be pining for the '70s, if the debut record from his new outfit, Black Peaches, is any indication. Get Down You Dirty Rascals, less an album title and more an instruction, is an embodiment of many, many different styles — a real hodgepodge, if you will. It's tinged with Tropicalia in its use of Latin percussion and rhythm, including the cuíca (that instrument that sounds like a monkey howling), with bongos and shakers throughout. Then there are the disco nuances, an insatiable through-line groove and subtle glimmers of country. There's quite a lot going on here, and it feels far heftier than nine songs might suggest (it doesn't hurt that most clock in over six minutes).
From the start, with "Double Top," Get Down feeds listeners with two minutes of warm, upbeat country-infused guitar noodling (in the same tonal vein as Dylan's Nashville Skyline, with a little CCR to boot) before the singing starts. "Chops of Tchoupitoulas" (a street in New Orleans) is a Nawlins-inspired piano rag that fades out into snaps, and could easily be one of those repetitive piano melody-based ringtones. The dreamy "Howling Moon" may as well be a toned-down Dr. John song, swampy and stomping, with a muggy groove; "Suivez Moi" invites you into the rainforest, complete with creature croaks and creaks. There are two interludes of sorts — one is in essence a restless drum solo, "Rainbow Appears In Saturn's Rings," and the swirling galactic curiosity of "Pomegranate Morning." "Fire & A Water sign" and "Below The Waves" are funky groovers, plain and simple.
At times Get Down You Dirty Rascals feels like a band run amok, a free-for-all, not quite aimless but swirling through a haze of an intense jam session. Good groove piles on top of good groove, often competing for the listener's focus but never exhausting. The vocals occasionally pale to all the top-notch instrumental performances, or surprise you when they don't kick in until halfway through the tune. A complete 180 from the pop stylings of Hot Chip, this musical gumbo is Smoughton tuning in to the sounds of the South, mixing in some Brazilian spice and a dash of country. (1965 Records)