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Published: 2002/01/23
by Chris Bertolet

Monster For The Masses – Afroskull

SNR 2000

With such nuevo-funksters as Galactic and Papa Grows Funk populating
the
New Orleans scene, it's little wonder that worthy upstarts like NOLA sextet
Afroskull can remain a well-kept secret. But it is no less a shame.

Afroskull is a party sound to write home about – a stiff, sophisticated
cocktail of groove rock and brass-drenched fusion – and the band's October
2000
release Monster for the Masses is a bracing and intoxicating debut.

"Starsky and Hutch" fans will thrill to "Kill Whitey," a note-perfect
soundtrack
to a '70s car chase, all hairpin skids and slides atop an eight-cylinder
bottom
end churning with inertia. "Layers" catches the band picking Stevie
Wonder's
pocket to delicious effect when its "Higher Ground" groove goes white-hot
and
critical. "Curiosity" drops a distinctly P-Funk flavor into the stew pot,
and
the companion pieces "It" and "Theme From Afroskull" showcase the band's
metal
edge (recently honed, according to the band's website, in several three-hour
performances featuring nothing but Black Sabbath covers).

Afroskull's rotating horn section, ranging here from three to nine men deep,
punctuates the heady compositions of Bill Richards and Joe Scatassa with
fire
and authority. But while sometimes-sax man Scott Bourgeoius shows off a
mighty
command of melody and tension, and while Scatassa can wring out a lead
guitar
line vaguely reminiscent of Mahavishnu-era McLaughlin, Afroskull seems
mostly
unburdened by blazing virtuosity.

To be fair, though, that's the New Orleans way. It's not about the
ingredients;
it's about the dish. And if the word gets out, Afroskull ought to have them
coming back for seconds.

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