Radio Citizen Berlin Serengeti

Meshing beats and styles is risky business when combining genres as seemingly disparate as dusty cine’jazz and vintage JA dub. Post- soul jazz collective, Radio Citizen, rise to the challenge on their stellar debut, "Berlin Serengeti”. Fronting Radio Citizen is Berlin –based songwriter /producer Niko Schabel, who’s worked with The Last Poets, Express Brass Band and other musical notables. The sound he forges here blends soundtrack instrumentals such as film noir and blaxploitation with vintage funk, afrobeat, bossa nova, rock and break-beats. All deeply informed by numerous jazz styles-modal jazz and Ethio-jazz to name a few. Nothing new here musically -Barry Adamson’s album"Soul Murder” and much of Cinematic Orchestra’s repertoire resembles this vibe.  However, Schabel’s musical magic bullets are is his mixing of strategically placed dub-shots, throughout Serengeti’s 16 tracks. Check the opus-like tracks "Voices” and "Champion Sound” or the nuevo bossa of "The Night Pts. 1 & 2” for the dubble effect.  And   Schabel’s inclusion of live instruments- he collaborates with a skilled studio band along with some well-placed samples- and a lush production sound, which gives Serengeti its warm 70’s jazz aesthetic. Plus, Schabel’s liberal use of rhodes piano and bass clarinet add juicy sound texture, as well as alternating colour and mood to Serengeti.  The sweetest surprise here is lead vocalist, Bajka. Her Erykah Badu meets Eartha Kitt sultry drawl, sets the album’s tone, bringing personality to Serengeti’s strongest singles-the ridiculously phat "The Hop” and infectiously downbeat "Everything”. So, who’ll dig Berlin Serengeti besides me? Deep jazz funk heads with a taste for sophisticated rare groove. And dance-floor dwellers craving consciously funky beats. Dig into this one with serious aural gusto. (Ubiquity)