Soul-Junk is unique. Unique, not that they're different from everything else, but unique in that their difference is in how similar they are to everything else. They incorporate quite successfully, elements of a wide range of different styles. On 1956, they utilize an unusual assortment of sound producing devices such as guitars (acoustic and electric) bass, drums, keyboards, and trumpets, vocorders, tone generators, musical saw, wind generator, banjo, marimba, and croquet mallets. And what is more impressive about the music is not the instrumentation but how they make it work- and it works marvelously. Right from the instant it starts with a little instrumental intro that only hints at what might be in store, an electronic hip hop, acid jazz, alt-rock space symphony. A mix of culture from top to bottom as perceived from radio transmissions jumbled all together, distorted and bounced off the moon and received by friendly aliens with great rhyming ability and humor. There's even a Baroque string quartet piece blended with an electronic acid-house mix juxtaposed against some righteous street rap that flows.
Most reviews of the band that I have read have come from the secular underground and indie press, so most of the band comparisons are secular/indie style bands, like Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo, Sebodah, and Pavement. But that only describes parts of their sound, not the entire essence and experience of the music. There are really no comparisons to any other band that I have heard. They are a band that would be a reference point that others will be compared to. And despite the band's lyrics being mostly directly quotes from scripture and apologetic in nature, all the reviews are positive. Speaking the Word in a new way to a new audience that is willing to listen-- Now this is 21st century evangelism.
Although the novelty factor is high, it just gets better the more times you listen to it, and it doesn't get old, it just makes a lot of other music seem bland and almost insignificant. Some people might be scared off by the rap, hip-hop style of some of the songs and will miss the rock and alt styles elsewhere on this disc. That would be their loss. Those willing to ride it out will be surprised and pleased at the total package. Still this isn't for everyone. I've seen some people freak out at the sounds produced on this recording and that was a rather amusing experience. But the question remains, "Why should I buy this CD?" The main reason is that it's good, real good. If you've never heard the band then it's worth the listen, and if you have heard them, this is as good as their other material, but still different enough to be fresh. A lot of the new trend of mixing hip-hop and alternative music was already a mainstay of Soul-Junk's sound years ago, and when the new trend fades and becomes mainstream Soul-Junk will continue to be innovative and create new music that will be as important and this record will remain the standard by which the others will be measured. This is music by trendsetters not trend followers.
Samples of their material have been on compilations such as the G.A.S. discs that 7Ball releases (vol. 11 "May my tongue be stuck up on the roof" from 1955 and Take Time To Listen Vol. 5, "Ill-m-I" from 1956. And Methods of Intimate Plumbing, "Swallowed Up by Life," (Blue Bunny Records BB02).- Review date: 8/5/00, written by Ed Encelewski for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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