African-influenced funk band Ikebe Shakedown drops new album
Stylistically, Stone by Stone leans much more ’70s funk and soul than their handle would lead you to believe
It was nearly a year ago that Ikebe Shakedown gifted us with a taste of their upcoming album, Stone by Stone. With the limited-edition 45 release of “The Beast,” now only available digitally unless you get lucky and run across one in a shop, we were treated to a slow and steady funk-building instrumental. Its B-side, “Road Song,” exclusive to the 45, would have sounded right at home on a Menahan Street Band album thanks to another strong bass line and laced with a nice dose of melodic piano. That sound was influenced greatly by where it was recorded: Daptone Studios in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Stylistically, Stone by Stone leans much more ’70s funk and soul than their handle would lead you to believe. There are still African influences to be found on the album such as “Chosen Path.” Far more prevalent, though, are slinky, and at times, bluesy guitar riffs and timely horn patterns. Being a fully instrumental album—no spoken word intro, chants, grunts, or vocal effects of any kind are to be found—it gives the listener the opportunity to immerse themselves into a greasy and sometimes trippy funk world.
Ikebe Shakedown notes a shift in the sound for their latest album. “Our first two releases were very focused on capturing Ikebe’s live sound,” percussionist Dave Bourla recalls. “Stone by Stone is more focused on developing rich textures and layers that we could achieve in the studio including putting a lot more keyboards on the tracks. Still, we’ve always been committed to tracking everything to tape. Being at Daptone gave us the freedom to explore creatively while keeping us tied to the traditional recording techniques that make the House of Soul [studio] unique.”
That revivalist Daptone New York soul sound wasn’t first realized with the new album though. “We recorded our first releases, the EP Hard Steppin’ and some tracks off our self-titled LP with Tom Brenneck at Dunham Studios,” Bourla says. “Off of that, a few of us started to play in the touring bands of Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, while other guys were playing with Lee Fields (from Truth & Soul Records). As a result, a bunch of us had gotten to know the tape engineer at Daptone, Wayne Gordon, whose talents we greatly respect. When he had a couple of days at the studio free, we jumped on the chance to record in a place that’s inspired all of us.”
That inspiration has led to some very cohesive work, not only within this album, but across their sound as a whole over these past five years. As Ikebe Shakedown calls out, having multiple members (in this case, seven) can be positive instead of debilitating. “Our tastes as players and composers are pretty diverse,” says Bourla. “This album is just our newest attempt to make sure that we’re creating a new kind of sound using all those influences, turning them into tunes that we really enjoy.” Additionally, they bring a lot of their influences from their favorite music. Specifically, they are proud to point out the following, “For Stone by Stone, our inspiration ranged from some of the more lyrical instrumental music of West Africa, the powerful grooves of our favorite soul acts like the Mar-Keys and Booker T., the Meters, and the deep emotional and cinematic storytelling of composers like Morricone.”
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