Will Holland, a.k.a. "Quantic," has this little side project called the Quantic Soul Orchestra. According to the QSO web page, "The concept is to present to the listener a sample free, live, raw funk sound with a nod to breakbeat and sample culture. The beats are tough, drum breaks a plenty and with the vocal talents of Alice Russell they have developed an original take on Deep Funk and Soul."
Holland is not content with rehashing staple breaks and beats...but draws on each manifestation of beat culture. Pushin' plays like a thoughtful tribute: to J.B. shuffle, Stepney lushness, Wanderley breezes, and a whole lotta S.O.U.L...
The tradition-steeped introduction builds to Alice Rusell's power struttin' entrance on "Pushin' On": beats by the pound, stilettos to the dome, and a yeeeeeaaaoooww! that would have Tina running back to Nutbush. Before settling in this proto-funk territory, the record takes an international jaunt. "Feeling Good" nods to Buarque's Brasil with its soft brass lines in unison and gorgeous strings, while "The Conspirator" sounds at home on the Ethiopiques series. While a steady backbeat remains the relative constant in all these cuts, Holland spreads the influences far and wide to give the album a sense of progression.
The QSO/Alice Russell songs are exactly the kind of music that you want to hear on the radio during the friday afternoon rush hour. It's good soul funk with Quantic oomph, sung with spunk and energy rivalling James Brown and Tina Turner.
The five tracks featuring Alice Russell work a whole lot more for me than the instrumentals. The instrumentals have all the right technical elements: the beats, the precision, the horns right on time, but the attitude in the playing doesn't come out through the speakers without the singing. 'Tude is essential to soul & funk; if it's lacking, your nu-soul funk is just plain nu. I'm not saying it's bad, because it's definitely not. The music is solid. It's just a little like having a supercharged version of the Funk Brothers playing on stage, and the singers never show up. Having said that, I'm certain the instrumental tracks are a lot livelier live than they are on CD, and I wouldn't miss the band's live gig.
QSO & Alice Russell mp3s:
End of the Road