Category Archives: Rocket Juice & The Moon
Rocket Juice & The Moon – Rocket Juice & The Moon
If James Brown hadn’t gotten to it first, Damon Albarn would have certainly scooped up the nickname “The Hardest Working Man In Show Business” by this point. For yet another new musical outlet for the prolific musician, Albarn teamed up with Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen (whom he worked with previously on The Good, The Bad & The Queen) to form the curiously named Rocket Juice & The Moon. Given Albarn’s well-known fascinations with rap and African music, it comes as no surprise that he utilizes the gifted rhythm team of Flea and Allen for a groove-oriented record, which Rocket Juice & The Moon assuredly is. Though Flea and Allen’s presence suggests a more danceable, funky album, this record is more up Albarn’s alley, incorporating elements of dub, Afro-beat and funk, while settling into cooler, tighter grooves. Not quite subdued but not quite “party music” either. Yet, for a supergroup, this album charts a rather low-key personality; the three stars are often content to slip into the background while others take the spotlight. Most of the time, this works to their advantage. Erykah Badu drops by for the silky-smooth “Hey, Shooter;” rapper M.anifest shines on a few tracks but none more affecting than when he trades off lines with M3nsa on the sunny “Chop Up;” meanwhile Fatoumata Diawara and the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble steal the show on “Lolo.” The one time when Damon takes center stage, though, he scores a winner with the lovelorn ballad “Poison.”
Yet, it’s this same modesty that ends up dragging the album down in places. It’s true that Albarn, Allen and Flea are all extremely skilled musicians, but for a record largely composed of deliberately-paced instrumentals, very few of these—namely “There,” “1-2-3-4-5-6,” and “Leave-Taking”—leave an impact. Most of these sorts of numbers barely scrape by the two minute-mark, and while this helps reign in indulgent jamming, grooves as subtle as these need time to build up and ingratiate themselves. Because of this, at 18 tracks, there are points where the album begins to meander and slide too far out of consciousness. Still, even if the merit of this group makes you wish this was a tad less slight, there’s not a moment here that’s unlistenable. Rocket Juice & The Moon is simply a quaint, summery gem.