A zingy fusion of disparate styles.
Matthew Horton 2011-03-10
If you believe a somewhat fanciful back-story, Cornershop mainman Tjinder Singh and the splendidly named Punjabi singer Bubbley Kaur, who features throughout here, met in a cellar in Preston while Kaur was working in a launderette. It's not quite Don't You Want Me, but from similarly humble origins Singh and Kaur have realised some sort of dream – a successful marriage of funk and Punjabi folk. They gave it a go as far back as 2004 with the warm, burbling Topknot (included here), which pricked up ears and prompted M.I.A. to rap over a Cavemen remix, then the years intervened along with an utter lack of requirement to finish an album. Happily, The Double-O Groove Of sounds as laidback and unhurried as Cornershop and Kaur clearly were.
In fact, pressure hasn’t been a feature of Cornershop’s career for some time. Ever since Singh and wingman Ben Ayres tasted shock fame with Norman Cook’s chart-topping remix of Brimful of Asha in the late 90s, they’ve gradually slipped off the radar – whether by design or sorry lack of mass appeal – and now find themselves self-releasing on Ample Play, where the lovely, totally ignored Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast emerged in 2009. The Double-O Groove Of is certainly not going to snare Brit Award nominations (more’s the pity), nor spew forth chart-slaying smashes; but it’s a neat idea and worth a smattering of your currency.
Sung entirely in Punjabi, glories abound from the circular licks of United Provinces of India to the out-of-season festive brass on Once There Was a Wintertime. Singh and Ayres use mid-paced sinuous rhythms as a bed for lashings of sitar on Double Digit, where Sly Stone bass buffets a Wurlitzer organ, and for the tablas-meet-Curtis-Mayfield flashy funk of The 911 Curry, while Kaur softens her natural shrillness on Double Decker Eyelashes and The Biro Pen to roll with harpsichords and jazzy, barrelling piano. See, within The Double-O Groove Of’s strict remit, there’s scope for all sorts of magpie schemes. Most delightful of all are the chopped-up Sesame Street-style piano thumps and Nilsson-esque guitar fills that keep closer Don’t Shake It bumping along in go-go shoes. You check out with a smile.
It would be nice on occasion to hear Singh’s own supple, syrupy tones – and perhaps to understand what Kaur’s singing; if your Punjabi isn’t top notch, she might as well be cooing the shipping forecast – but that’s not the purpose of the project. That’s to create a zingy fusion of disparate styles, and it succeeds with bells on.