Published Jun 26, 2018There is a cosmetic shop in Toronto that bears a block-capitals mural that reads "BEAUTY DOESN'T RINSE OFF." The fact that virtually everything in the store does, in fact, rinse off must surely strike its patrons as ironic, if not flat out Orwellian.
So goes the new double LP from German DJ collective Jazzanova. The group have produced their share of beauty over the years, via original recordings and remixes, but their connection to actual jazz has always been tenuous. They're on the jazz-funk spectrum, certainly, but not at the end their name would suggest.
This new effort — their first since 2012's Funkhaus Studio Sessions — is entirely funky. Alex Barck, Claas Brieler, Jürgen von Knoblauch, Stefan Leisering and Axel Reinemer have pulled together a dozen solid electronic funk tracks, and some have the potential to achieve real mass appeal.
World-class vocal performances are turned in by a host of contributors, and the collective DJs continue to grow increasingly skilled on traditional instruments. Much of the album is single-worthy; highlights include Rachel Sermanni's "Rain Makes the River," Jamie Cullum's "Let's Live Well" and "Everything I Wanted" featuring Charlotte OC.
Yet The Pool feels a tad disconnected to qualify as one of the year's major releases. There's a kind of connective tissue missing; the groove is there, but it lacks flow. Jazzanova have given us a dozen good songs (again, some of them better than good), but you're unlikely to gain much satisfaction from listening to them in one sitting. (Sonar Kollektiv)