Review Summary: The doors of Newcastle, Australia are being torn down by a big, bad funky beast; all we can do is drink up the funky produce and try to make it more welcome when it comes around.
There are those who try to deny the funk. When the funk comes knocking at their door, they keep the door shut and try to leave the funk out in the rain like some bad animal. And the funk is just that; a big, bad, hairy, colourful animal, hungry to get some people groovin'. When an animal like that is shut out, it doesn't stay out long; it tears down the door and unleashes its funky produce all over the walls and ceiling. Unfortunately, such a beast hasn't been present in the Australian music scene for some time, if ever, leaving airwaves and venues frighteningly un-funky. But the funk beast was just waiting for a group of musicians skilled enough to deliver it, and they arrive in the form of Newcastle based 8 piece Funkwit and their self-titled debut E.P.
Luke Greenhalgh - Guitar
Tim Evans - Drums
Kim Zimmerman - Bass
Christopher Harley - Keys
Tom Prichard - Trumpet
Simon McCabe - Tenor Sax
Susie Ellicott - Alto Sax
Chelsea Reed - Vocals
Recorded and released after only a year of gigging and writing together, this E.P is an astonishiong showcase of musical ability; each musician performs with the proficiency and confidence of players decades beyond them in experience. Drummer Tim Evans is an immediate standout, with his solos on 'Marcus and His Many Friends' and 'Continuity' being simply mind-boggling. He also works excellently with bassist Kim Zimmerman, whose fat and nasty grooves make tracks like 'Funkin' A' and 'Just My Luck'. Keyboardist Christopher Harley adds some delicacy and subtlety to the Funkwit sound, with the lounge-tinged 'Limbo' a great showcase of his incredible piano playing. The brass section of Tom Prichard on trumpet, Simon McCabe on tenor sax and Susie Ellicott on alto sax brings some added punch to the sound, with some nice flourishes throughout and jaw-dropping performances on 'Marcus...' and 'Continuity'. Rather than assuming the dominant roll guitar usually has in most popular music, Luke Greenhalgh makes subtlety the key here; blending in well with his bandmates, supplying many funky riffs and licks throughout the E.P. Over the top of such instrumental prowess are the vocal talents of Chelsea Reed, who delivers with a wailing power on tracks like 'Funkin' A' and 'Just My Luck', but also brings out some tenderness on 'Limbo'. Not only is the individual musicianship of each member stellar; but the collective functionality and chemistry within the group is also remarkable. They all listen to and compliment each other's playing perfectly, with some great call and response moments on 'Marcus and His Many Friends' a prime example of this.
This E.P is also host to much musical diversity within its 6 tracks. despite being most certainly funk, each track is injected with its own stylistic character. 'ProgLog' is a short, spacey intro to the EP featuring some ambient guitar and dissonant drum sounds. 'Funkin' A' is a dirty, laidback groove driven track with an awesome stomping bridge and off-beat fills. The next track, 'Marcus and His Many Friends' is an instrumental piece with a busy latin beat driving the song, with call and response between each instrument throughout. 'Just My Luck' is a catchy and upbeat track, with the brass and keys dancing all over this number. 'Continuity' is just Jazz-infused insanity; an instrumental reminiscent if big band swing in particular. Each instrumentalist pushes their musicianship to the limit here, serving out a multitude of difficult chops in just under 2 mins. Closing the E.P is the smooth, soulful 'Limbo', which has a relaxing lounge music vibe, which has plenty of space for the vocals and piano to take over.
In just 20 short minutes, Funkwit have delivered an impressive, fun and downright groovy package that showcases their extreme talent and potential; all that is left is for these guys to further tie together and refine the elements that make them such an incredible band. The doors of Newcastle, Australia are being torn down by a big, bad funky beast; all we can do is drink up the funky produce and try to make it more welcome when it comes around.