Now this is something else. Not only is this album right on the money, low down, tough afro funk with a mature sound, rich in the influence of its heritage – it may surprise you to learn that the ten strong line-up are teenagers. Formed in 2009 as a school band in Melbourne, the founder members have been cutting their chops on Eddie Bo and James Brown since the age of 14 – highly impressive then that many seasoned musicians twice their age would be proud to be releasing a debut album of this quality, let alone release their first single as a 45 before any of them even turned 18.
These guys are not simply going through the motions either. Their passion for the groove is genuine and positively infectious. In fact it makes me feel ridiculously happy that they’ve chosen this path at their age. Their sound is tight enough to literally hold water like a cactus and some rather deft arrangements see the music shift through a series of bold and dynamic changes. All pleasingly produced to a standard of analog trueness for Melbourne’s Hope Street Recordings.
The album is street tough one minute, on hard grooves such as the chase-like “Emanuel Ciccolini” and “Dirty D’s Thang” with percolating afro funk heaviness – then thoughtful and melodic the next moment as on “The Colour Of Don Don” or “Budokan. An impressive trio of ferocious tracks run through the centre of the album as “Level Up” and “Boss Cat” keep a brisk momentum, building to a considerable head by the end of “Jungle Run”. After a full safari, Part 1 of the finale “Hot Teeth” roars to a powerful close before easing out gently with an encore.
Uncompromisingly tough and dynamic throughout, the ages of the Cactus Channel’s roster belies the maturity and boldness of their sound. “Haptics” is a strong, sure footed and infectious debut. Vintage funk has somehow never sounded so heartwarmingly new.