Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band A Special Album

Though people are talking about this trio as the next wave in the Röyskopp-led Norweigan invasion, A Special Album shows greater affinity with Bristol’s trip-hop explosion. The disc is similarly filled out with slow-end funk, dubby atmospherics and ’70s Euro soundtrack stylings. But unlike the majority of the down-tempo herd, Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band (none of the names are real) bring a uniquely live feel to their tracks. Drummer Tarjei Ström is the obvious source of the band’s spontaneity, but it’s also there in the way they ripple reverb and echo over his well-locked beats and then supplement the mix with extra-terrestrial solos on analog synths. The presence of the unidentified female vocalist on "Casino,” "You Never Come Closer” and the cover of Donald Byrd’s "Think Twice” invites comparisons to Air, but never as an imitation. The organic take on old school electro on "Funk Bizinizz” and the mad drumming session on the hidden track otherwise show Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band at their most distinctive. (Emperor Norton)