If there’s any doubt as to whether Electric Wire Hustle are inspired by Common’s magnum opus Electric Circus it’s dispelled as soon as the tripped out groove on “Waters” rolls up. Electric Wire Hustle isn’t exactly The Soulquarians’ lost tapes, but ELW do pick up their baton and run with it. With style. Quite simply this is the best, most exciting R&B, soul, electronica, whatever you want to call it, record I’ve heard this year.
The horns on “Gimme That Kinda”, singer Mara TK’s delicious falsetto, the bumping basslines, the grooves, God, the grooves, all come straight out of the Soulquarians’ songbook. And in no way is that derivative or a bad thing. Above all it’s Electric Wire Hustle’s burning desire to push soul music in all its glorious variety to scale new heights that marks them out as truly special. Like their illustrious predecessors, they’ve got the gift of taking classic soul, jazz and funk and moulding them into something that sounds as cutting edge as anything else out there.
They’re so good that collaborations with fellow envelop-pushers Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins (that on most debut albums you’d expect to stand out a mile) slide by almost unnoticed. Indeed, the quality of the musicianship and song writing throughout the album is staggering. “Tom Boy” is a stone cold soul classic, “They Don’t Want” brings the funk and a particularly satisfying bassline, “Experience” recalls Flying Lotus’ experiments in jazz and hip hop, while “Chaser,” the track that brought them to Gilles Peterson’s attentions marries a kick-ass drum and bass groove with the sweetest of soul vocals.
While almost every aspect of Electric Wire Hustle deserves praise, (can the drummer get some by the way? The beats here are on fire) the star of the show is undoubtedly Mara TK on vocals. His upper register and falsetto put crooners like the much hyped Mayer Hawthorne to shame, and when he comes down low he gives it the bottom the music needs without losing control. It’s superb. It’s what the world might have sounded like if The Soulquarians had taken over the world as they should have done. Now it’s Electric Wire Hustle’s turn to try.