The New Mastersounds – Breaks from the Border (2011)

The New Mastersounds - Breaks from the Border (2011)
Artist: The New Mastersounds
Album: Breaks from the Border
Label: Tallest Man Records
Year Of Release: 2011
Quality: FLAC (tracks+.cue)

01. Take What You Need (3:12)
02. Run the Gauntlet (4:22)
03. On the Border (4:12)
04. Free Man (3:22)
05. Freckles (3:45)
06. Passport (4:45)
07. Walk in These Shoes (5:51)
08. Josus (4:59)
09. Can You Get It? (7:22)
10. Turn It Up (3:10)
11. Up in the Air (3:37)


Rather than take a well-deserved break after a U.S. festival tour, Leeds U.K. funk quartet the New Mastersounds flew to Tomillo, Texas’ Sonic Ranch, a residential neighborhood studio located near the border between the States and Mexico. Deciding they wanted to append their near-constant instrumental output with vocals — that have primarily occurred on stages rather than in the studio — they flew in Rhianna “Freckles” Kenny to collaborate in the writing, arranging, and recording process. Cut in just over a week, Breaks from the Border reflects the bubbling, energetically infectious sounds of the New Mastersounds at their best, while adding depth and dimension to some beautifully breezy, elastic, harmonically savvy vocals that never manage to get in the way of the quartet’s knotty, rave-up funky grooves. All four members harmonize on opener “Take What You Need,” which merely highlights their backbeat-driven Meters-influenced funk with an into-the-red bassline groove led by Pete Shand. They pick up the tempo with “Run the Gauntlet,” featuring a smoking B-3 solo by Joe Tatton. The knotty breaks by kit man Simon Allen fuel the shimmering group vocals on “On the Border,” while the finger-popping dialogue between the bassline and Eddie Roberts’ jazz guitar wrangling on “Freckles” accounts for one of the finest moments on the disc. The burning Afro-funk at the heart of “Walk in These Shoes” reveals the quartet at full rhythm burn, even with the four-part harmonies adding a breezy, humid element to the mix. Roberts’ guitar break is one of the best on any New Mastersounds studio effort. “Josus” walks on the jazz side of funk and “Can You Get It?” sounds like an update of the Meters’ bubble and broil. Kenny takes her own lead vocal break on the album-closing jazzer “Up in the Air,” with spacy psychedelic soul grooves from the New Mastersounds. On paper, it would have seemed that Breaks from the Border might have fallen short; as it stands, however, this set adds another level of from-the-basement groove to the quartet’s already formidable attack. ~ Thom Jurek

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