Incognito mastermind Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick and influential DJ and Brownswood label head Gilles Peterson got together for this Brit Funk project Str4ta, recalling the early 80s when bands like Freeez, Touchdown (remember “Ease Your Mind” from 1981?: delicious!), Hi Tension, Light Of The World, or Atmosfear made maves not only in the UK, but overseas as well. I remember listening to BFBS and recording most of that great sound onto cassettes. The title track from Light Of The World‘s 1982 LP “Check Us Out” for example, had a groove and attitude to die for. Bluey was part of the group before he foundeded Incognito.
On “Aspects”, that typically raw sound, mixing funk, soul, and jazz for an incredibly thick amalgam of keys, back-up vocals, and fat bass, is the main asset, with pieces like “Kinshasa FC” harking back to those glorious days. Some of the pieces here remind me of individual album tracks from several Incognito albums of the past decades. Keyboardist Peter Hinds, member of Atmosfear and prominently featured on the group’s wonderful 1981 LP “En Trance”, is featured here and with great effect (“Steppers Crusade”).
Elsewhere on the album, there are some Lonnie Liston Smith moments, too. First single “Rhythm In Your Mind”, a percussive jam which is probably the most Incognito-ish tune on the album, has the band’s Francis Hylton on bass and Matt Cooper on keys. Raw and spare, edgy and with just the right amount of funky knack. It is interesting to find out that for this project, Gilles would spin records as jumping off points, and Bluey then getting to work with different collaborators to find a new direction. They both succeed. That early 80s Brit Funk fusion sound crosses over perfectly and works amazingly well, also has me going back to all those wonderful LPs of that golden era.