Lance Ferguson – Raw Material

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Two CDs of floor filling jams from across the spectrum of funk, disco and electronic music.

Lance Ferguson doesn’t like doing things the easy way.

For his first solo album under his own name (he’s previously made largely solo records under the name Lanu) The Bamboos’ bandleader wrote and recorded 12 songs with a bunch of really great players. Simple enough so far.

But then, he gave those songs to a few of his favourite producers and vocalists and asked them to completely rework the songs into their own pieces of music.

The result: a mammoth, two-CD, 25 track, 107-minute-long collection of tracks that run the gamut of dance music – both old and new – that are both a celebration of sample culture and an argument for starting a band and making music yourself.

The new versions that make up the first half of the album really are complete reinventions. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better.

 

One Above, EMRSN and MC Mosé bring a new vibrancy to Ferguson’s original work with ‘Back To You’, which opens the album. But that doesn’t mean it’s of any more value than ‘2+1’, a straight-up soul belter in which the always spirited Kylie Auldist takes on the subject of so many great soul songs – two-timing.

Truth is, you’ll probably gravitate to one of the two sides of the project. Maybe that was Ferguson’s intention all along. Or maybe the intention was to shine a light on some unbelievably talented producers, many of whom remain unknowns to Ferguson’s fans.

Given the breadth of these talented friends, the highlights are wide-ranging and happen across a range of genres.

Katalyst and Cazeaux O.S.L.O. make ‘Thick And Thin’ a deep, unstoppable hip hop track. LA singer Brit Manor helps turn ‘All I Got’ into an irresistible 70s space disco jam, while Brooklyn duo Javelin lend a similar – but far weirder – touch to the woozy ‘Outer Excursion’.

Late Nite Tough Guy nudges the vintage ‘Do U Want Me 2 Stay’ slightly in the direction of modern deep house, while Ennio Styles gives ‘Lanthology’ a jazzy, rare groove kind of spin.

Ferguson’s side, in which he uses a grab-bag of gun players from the likes of Hiatus Kaiyote, The PutBacks and his own Bamboos, is diverse enough in and of itself.

Both ‘Peuple de la Nuit’ and ‘Yoshiko’s Theme’ sound like they could have been cribbed from two very different films. The psych-folk of ‘Voyage To The Future’ has an almost unnerving flower-power vibe.

Hopefully someone slips the incredible heavy disco track ‘Love Disguise’ into the Daft Punk record crate at some stage. It’s so authentic and so damn good that we’re still not completely convinced Ferguson didn’t steal it from some criminally undiscovered 70s funk band from the US.

The one thing that holds the whole collection together is its dancefloor focused nature. No matter what kind of party you like to throw, Raw Material has music that will work into its playlist perfectly.

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