(RH Record of the week review at the bottom of this text)
Arp Frique's second album on Colorful World, exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. Tip!
“A seed is the basis of life: a tree, food, a baby, conception, a thought, an album, a band,” says Arp Frique around the title and narrative theme of his latest album. “A seed is growth from almost nothing to everything.”
It’s also linked to a track by Stevie Wonder that he often covers with the band live - 'A Seed's a Star/Tree Medley.' Arp Frique has an inherent understanding of funk and a flush-tight connection to the groove. This was apparent on his debut Welcome To The Colorful World of Arp Frique, via its fusion of disco and funk interwoven with Caribbean and Cape Verdean sounds, and it continues even more so here. If anything, the album plunges deeper into Arp Frique’s love of rhythm and groove. “I went deeper into my love for synths and drum machines from a dance floor perspective,” he says of the album. “This one has more of an electronic vibe.”
The result is an album that feels potently alive, sonically exploring the globe via a concoction of sounds that takes in disco, synth boogie, funk and the sounds of the Caribbean, West and East Africa. The album radiates the feeling of a lost gem, the kind that a crate digging aficionado may find in some far flung place that ends up with a re-release. Whilst Arp Frique expresses a real fondness for such classic sounds - “honestly I wouldn’t even know how to make modern stuff, I am stuck in the 70-80-90s and I love it there” - a tired exercise in retro nostalgia this isn’t. Instead, the album feels more like a fresh take on sounds that once ignited dance floors across the world.
On top of having the dance floor in mind, the album is also a deeply personal one. “I wanted to make this one even more personal and have the lyrics go deeper,” he says. “The lyrics on the album reflect the times we live in: the confusion, hope, despair, rebellion, unity, upgrading consciousness and divinity.” The creative process - despite benefiting hugely from guests that include Americo Brito, Mariseya, Orlando Julius and The Scorpios - is also a personal and intense one for Arp Frique. “I always think in terms of sound and emotion, the two most important aspects of music,” he says. “Every layer that I add needs to add emotion and amplify the sonic palette. It’s a very deep process that I need to do on my own - there is no other way for me. I connect to a higher level of consciousness during these sessions and all external influences need to be cut off in order for this to have maximum effect.”
The theme of the seed that runs through this album, and the connotations of a life cycle, is linked to parenthood. “My daughter, now 5 years old, is my everything and the main drive for everything I do,” he says. “I dedicated this album to her and because this album means so much to me and reflects so much, I also have a full movie almost ready to be released together with the album.” Much like the album itself, the accompanying video will touch upon the tones and styles of bygone decades. “It’s a mixture of a road movie of me and the live band, mixed with a semi-fictional autobiographical story with the album as a soundtrack, all in VHS. Think Holy Mountain meets Sun Ra movies meets Purple Rain but on a low budget with a VHS-cult vibe to it.”
Rush Hour Store Record of the week W49:
Bridging gaps and bringing people, sounds and continents together. That’s what Arp Frique continues to do in his own relentless fashion on ‘The Seed’, his new album for Colorful World, that features the combined talents of Mariseya, Americo Brito, The Scorpios and Orlando Julius.
Taking off where he landed on ‘Welcome to the Colorful World of Arp Frique’, ‘The Seed’ is another highly energetic concoction of styles, taking in disco, synth boogie, funk, Caribbean, West-African and East-African flavors while broadening his sound as he goes along.
Soukous, calypso and funaná (to name but a few) are all masterfully intertwined on ‘The Seed’, with the open-minded band always looking to expand their repertoire, flirting with South-African bubblegum on ‘Baba Love’ (a track that features the mighty Orlando Julius) and channeling Francis Bebey on ‘Oi Quem Q’eu Nos Oi’.
It’s a never-ending quest that results in an increasingly hybrid sound that works just as good when it’s played live on stage in a venue or on a festival as it does when it’s fed to a discerning dancefloor at night.
Seeds are planted left and right and great things are popping up in all directions in Arp Frique’s magical parallel universe. In his own words: “A seed is the basis of life: a tree, food, a baby, conception, a thought, an album, a band. A seed is growth from almost nothing to everything.” (Rogier)