Galactic's musical path has seen them transition from purely making organic, Louisiana-flavoured funk to a harmonious gumbo of jazz, electronic and hip-hop. Oddly enough, in the 18 odd years of their existence, the New Orleans-based instrumental funk sextet had never released a Mardi Gras-themed project, until now. "We're obviously from New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is extremely prevalent. When it was time to make this album, it was a concept that really struck a chord with the band," notes Galactic bassist Robert Mercurio. Noted for their concept albums tackling a specific theme or musical vibe, Carnivale Electricos travels along the same wavelength – this time out connecting the musical through line between the respective Big Easy and Brazil carnivals. Hip-hop/samba mash-up "Magalenha," featuring Casa Samba, pays an electric homage to Sergio Mendes' original, while jams like "Out in the Street" (featuring Ivan and Cyril Neville) and the hip-hop juiced "Move Fast" reverentially conjure both pre- and post-Hurricane Katrina musical performance sensibilities. It's a raucous, vibrant, but well structured musical approach that brings along recognized artists (like current lead singer Corey Glover and local rap legends Mystikal and Mannie Fresh) for the ride.
What are your thoughts on the band's evolution over the years?
Mercurio: I think that we're at the point where you take a look at where you've been and where you're going. We see a progression throughout the last six or seven studio albums; it's not the same album over and over again.
There's always been a distinctive hip-hop flavour to your music. What was it like working this time out with Manny Fresh and Mystikal?
Man, they were both great, really professional. Mystikal was just hilarious in the studio. Both of them showed up and we worked on one track from, like, seven p.m. to like seven a.m. It was just amazing to see them create lyrics that quickly.
Would you still consider Galactic primarily an instrumental band or have you evolved beyond that?
It's tough to say. I mean, the core members of the band are an instrumental band; we still do play a good half of a show playing instrumental songs. At the same time, we definitely understand that we love to play vocal songs. And, of course, we've been touring around with Corey Glover from In Living Colour and he's one of the best vocalists in the world. So vocals are definitely not an afterthought; we do both. (Anti)