If you take a quick cruise through Orlando “Buscrates” Marshall’s Instagram, you may get dosed inhaling analog gear contact high. No, I’m serious. All those vintage rigs. I’m talking real geek OG Hardware, son. Big ‘70s machines with tiny knobs. Like those classic Herbie Hancock vinyl sleeve inserts from his ‘80 records. Where the outfits and eyewear frames dictate what year the technology is at keyboards, synths, and drum machine-wise.
Go a bit further down. Don’t be scared, no doom scrolling here, you can pick out a Whodini and Ohio Players record (Fire to be exact, for those keeping score) and then a jazz goodie, Lee Morgan “Live At The Lighthouse” from Blue Note Records. Damn. Plus a plethora of obscure 45s and ultra rares that sleuth vinyl heads would speak to themselves in mantra cadence like a shaman chanting “that’s that shit” under their breath to the thrift store Gods. With all of that, you can sho nuff get a visual idea what Buscrates’ debut long-player Blasting Off, released via Bastard Jazz Records, may sound like. A specific cross blend of boogie, modern funk, pop-locking paradise arrangements, and smoke-‘em-if-you-got-’em deftness, only a certain type of producer, with a respectful historic sensibility, could put together. “I’m a ‘90s hip hop dude, but I grew up on that ‘80s funk stuff,” Buscrates states on his Bandcamp page. Well touché, my brother. You are seen.
Blasting Off comes at it with ten stellar tracks, jams for days, clocking in just under 36 minutes, executing that special task of making you déja vu about all this good cooking. “Have I heard this before” is the question levitating beautifully around this album. Yes, and hell nah, is the correct answer. Producing music for 15 years, releasing different projects on physical formats since 2009, he’s got solid production know-how in crafting indelible hooks out of breezy grooves and undulating synths.
In an era where interest in post-disco records have come back—Los Angeles boogie party Funkmosphere, started by Dâm-Funk, and its sister party in San Francisco, Sweater Funk, acted as ground zero for a global resurgence in the synth-funk sound-Buscrates arrangements standout. They speak the truth. A bit livelier than traditional g-funk, his take on Modern funk connects and extends a cardinal tradition. Combining elements of post-disco hustle found in Leroy Burgess’s classic LOGG project, elements of vanguard ’80s R&B upfront in the production of Kashif, and a bit of that hard slap jazz-funk brought to the world initially by D-Train, Buscrates, unlike some of his contemporaries, uses these progenitors tenets as his starting block, not an endpoint.
“How Ya Gonna Do it,” the lead track and centerpiece of the album, showcases his knack for making resilient hooks swing, putting the head nod procedural in full effect, is just three minutes of sunshine keys, stunting bass lines and keytar flair accenting over the top. Vocalist Kate Moe Dee exudes warmth amidst voicing concerns about bad relationship choices. No crinkle in her game, just crease.
Opener “Believe,” featuring Anda, modernizes thoughts about g-funk through liquefication. Not as heavy as DJ Quik and peak Dr. Dre from the ‘90s, Buscrates reintroduces the sound through intricate nuanced waves. Instead of bounce, bliss is the operative, stretching those arrangements into interstellar slow-mo, anti-gravity mode. Most of the tracks here vary from two to three minutes each, with the closer “Turn It Out” going almost a full five. Several of the instrumentals are in-the-pocket snapshots of a good feeling relayed by color chords, synths, bouncing bass lines, and little guitar enhancements here and there. “Take A Ride” (feat JP Patterson) stands out as that little gem of a moment you can’t get enough of. Showcasing touch on the power of stillness, Bus gives up a sunkissed stunner that stops time, takes the edge off, and gives clarity
to a crazy world.
Label: Bastard Jazz
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to Treble since 2018. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in The Wire, 48 Hills, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK and Drowned In Sound.