The Cactus Channel “Haptics” | HopeStreetRecordings
As the most recent practitioners in the legacy of funk, soul and uptempo floor burners, The Cactus Channel is a new force in the music world that has taken little time to gain the type of momentum and awareness that builds legends. From Melbourne, Australia, this group of teenagers – just out of high school – has set the stage for one of the most impressive debut records in the funk genre. From Maceo Parker and James Brown to The Meters and Cymande, the essence of soul and funk is drenched in all of the Cactus Channel’s compositions. With recordings on vintage gear that helped give the original funk music it’s raw and gritty sound and the classic set up of guitars, bass, organ, drums and horns, the group has now embarking on the release of their debut record this year.
The Cactus Channel have summoned up a lot of energy and the integrity of the past on their debut record Haptics. Released on the Australian imprint HopeStreetRecordings, ten tracks of the purest soul and funk grace this album, putting the group into a category of music very few rare have the opportunity to enter in this day and age. In an age where effects, experimentation and a desire for the new have pushed music to countless amounts of possibilities, The Cactus Channel go back to basics and fulfil a language that founding fathers of funk such as Bootsy Collins and Dr. John would be proud of. Who knows, they might already be, considering the type of buzz they have generated among many seasoned musicians in soul and funk already.
What makes Haptics such an authentic vehicle of expression in the name of funk is the musicianship, the punch the recording contains in the mixing and the hard hitting anthems that are contained in every track. Everything is mastered and positioned to maximize the presence and power of each instrumentalist. However, they manage to retain enough space for all the embellishments of the music to flourish and take full shape. Organ shows full clarity along with the beautiful interaction of guitars as the music moves in heated pace. The rhythm section is synced into time in the most highest form, never creating tension or a displaced feeling on the bottom end. The musicians all constantly play off one another into endless states of groove.
As technically gifted musicians as they are, it’s hard to believe these guys are as young as they are. Regardless of age though and to put it in the most simple terms, The Cactus Channel get down. They bring something new to the funk and soul game with a refreshing sense of clean dynamics through the raw and powerful essence of analog recordings. Can’t forget the past when playing the kind of sound Funkadelic brought to the world and one that has been a dominant featutre of all funk and soul music for over 50 years.
Haptics puts a lot of gust and weight into each track, highlighting a slightly different approach to the funk and soul world. “Derty D’s Thang” is one of those tracks I could picture Muhammad Ali coming out to a fight. With an added trumpet, the showcase of rhythm in the guitar, bass and drums is phenomenal. It has a slight African flavor in the core of what it is, channeling the energy of Fela Kuti in some small aspects. The pairing of double guitar rhythms is incredible and gives a lot of room for the sax and trumpet lines to shower in massive power in the upper registers. The drums hit every point of impact in perfect movement, constantly playing off the dynamics of the music with the most tasteful chops. The trumpet solo that ensues creates a moment of elevated expression that highlights how heavy and serious this record really is. “Level Up”, like “Derty D’s Thang”, is a high octane blast of energy that would get any room of people off their feet. The synth and sax solo’s are some of the best on the album, showing the phrasing these guys can achieve in their instruments that connects to all the greats. The horn harmony that maintains the presence of the song from beginning to finish is just as heavy, euphoric and megalithic as that in “Derty D’s Thang”.
The album takes a really interesting diversion with the heavy power soul cut “The Colour Of Don Don”. The horns stray away from really hard hitting and fast lines and sit at home with the long form, stretched out sections that are wrapped tightly around the splashes of note sequences. The guitars keep rhythm with the drums and bass and a really heavy soul vibe takes over. Steeped in early funk, this is the sounds of a very distant world that traces back to many areas of the States in the early 60′s. The masterful phrasing of Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters is felt all over the piece “Budokan”. With a classic and unaccompanied drum break that begins the song, this is one of my favorite songs of the album. Once the music kicks in, the band takes off at full flight. It’s one of those slow burners that gives a lot of attention to highly stylized rhythm guitar, lush horn lines and some of the most laid back and grooved out drum work. I dare you to listen to this track and not move from the rhythm and groove present. I don’t think it’s possible.
Closing out Haptics with a heavy nod to James Brown and their own diversion and personal stamp to sound in the ending song “Hot Teeth”, The Cactus Channel pass every test imaginable. They have imprinted their legacy mark in the funk and soul game and this is only the beginning. As members of the growing community of music in Australia, this is a group who is going to gain more momentum than they could ever imagine was possible. I say that statement as they are a band I really believe in and when it boils down to it, I’d find it hard for someone who didn’t agree that their sound is the best modern funk out. It is with great pleasure to present this review on the groups debut long player Haptics.
Order this record here http://www.thecactuschannel.com/TheCactusChannel/Records/Pages/Haptics.html