Album release: ‘Digitonium’ puts Turkuaz at the forefront of funk

Turkuaz big“Digitonium,” the ecstatic new album from Turkuaz, is a deep, wonderful odyssey into exploratory, futuristic funk

For the nine-piece outfit from Brooklyn, “Digitonium” is a wonderful new soundscape that is an invigorating evolution of where the band has been moving.

This album drops the bass low and hard, with the guitars and synths flashing the digitalized aesthetic of 1980s Parliament/Funkadelic, the Gap Band and Talking Heads. It’s dance music that hooks you into cosmically worbling bass lines and dazzles with horns and synths. Playing off a title that perfectly defines the feel of the album, the band has created a sound that celebrates the digitalization of music with the dense, radioactive energy of plutonium.

Turkuaz is so fun, cool and enticing on “Digitonium” that the bold 80 minutes of music feel like a supercharged night of possibilities in the hustle of the city. “Murderface” barrels ahead with thumping panache, the horns popping around the relentless rhythm. The song oozes with adrenaline and paranoia, caught between “the laughter/the screaming,” and resembles Oingo Boingo’s brand of funk at its most sinister.

Though the album is long, the band never loses momentum. “Doktor Jazz” bounces down the glittering grit of the city’s alleys while “Digital Love” has the flirtatious joy of dance-floor love, drunk off the synths and talk-box. The band never ceases to keep the journey interesting, either, dancing within the nimble, smooth groove of “Lika,” pumping futuristic R&B in “Zynth,” and dropping into a Chuck-Brown-like funk jam on “Night Swimming.” With short musical interludes adding context and complexity to the album’s sound, “Digitonium” feels cohesive and defined, an achievement that is hard for most bands to obtain. Turkuaz nails it.

The band also can nail down an infectious groove on “Digitonium,” definitely influenced by the members’ love of ’80s funk and R&B, which is the very basis of the album. From the bubbly guitar and slappy bassline to the high-pitched voices and ridiculous name, “Bijou Drains The Birddog” is the obvious child of Parliament/Funkadelic. It is definitely new territory for Turkuaz, but it embraces the weirdness and takes off into a lovely jam that billows into the cosmos. Beyond the song itself, Parliament/Funkadelic’s prior commitment to groove and rhythm, while also exploring the funky depths of its songs, is a huge influence on the album as a whole.

The sensational horn section of Josh Schwartz (tenor, baritone sax), Greg Sanderson (alto, tenor sax) and Chris Brouwers (Trumpet) have always had the insanely tight precision of Earth, Wind & Fire; Taylor Shell (bass), Michelangelo Carubba (drums) and Craig Brodhead (guitar, synths) charge hard like Sly and The Family Stone; Sammi Garett (lead and backing vocals), Shira Elias (lead and backing vocals) and Dave Brandwein’s (lead & backing vocals, guitar) pipes power ahead together like Ike and Tina Turner’s revue. The band has always been about rhythm and dancing and connecting to the rush of funk.

“Digitonium” is an ambitious album that is executed spectacularly well. With this release, Turkuaz is a band that should be considered one of the most promising funk groups emerging right now.

  • Turkuaz
    “Digitonium”
    Release: Oct. 2, 2015
    Notable Tracks: “Bijou Drains the Birddog,” “Murderface,” “Doktor Jazz”
    Purchase: LINK

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