Mysteries Of Funk
Higher Ground / Columbia
By: Eric G.
Grooverider is credited as being one of the pioneers of drum n’ bass in the early 1990’s, so it’s kind of odd that his first solo album hasn’t come out until now. Mysteries Of Funk fuses several breeds of the drum n’ bass genre with a heavy emphasis on jazz and techno. Like contemporaries Goldie and Roni Size, Grooverider uses the female voice simply as an instrument as opposed to being a central force. On “Rainbows Of Colour” Roya Arab’s vocals stretch syllables (in a style similar to Bjork’s) slowly across a staggering, disjointed beat with guitars that alternate between simple chimes and frenzied disco.
With his debut coming out after so many critically acclaimed breakbeat records, Grooverider will be held to tough standards (his reputation notwithstanding). Mysteries Of Funk serves as more of a lateral move within the jungle scene as opposed to pushing any envelopes, but it manages to hold its own. Grooverider dabbles in dub, funk, and soul using the bass as his guide, but then he delves into straightforward techno with tracks like "Where's Jack The Ripper?" and "560." Grooverider uses vocals sparingly instead filling up the space with synthetics and filmic sound effects.
Mysteries Of Funk is surprising because of its simplemindedness. It is an overwhelmingly dark record. Grooverider opts to explore some of the more accessible elements of drum n' bass instead of redefining or furthering the genre. With that in mind, he has created a very smooth atmosphere despite the difficult rhythm patterns. Grooverider isn't overbearingly self-indulgent like Goldie, who he has remixed, nor is he too steeped in any one genre like Roni Size- instead he utilizes all of the elements that inspired drum n' bass in the first place, creating one of the most enjoyable breakbeat records to date.