Danish duo delivers very modern and very moving soul music.
Lloyd Bradley 2010-03-24
Quadron are multi-instrumentalist/producer Robin Hannibal and singer Coco O, and maybe because they’re Danish they have a unique approach to modern-day soul music that knows no fear and respects few boundaries. Removed from the sort of baggage that can weigh down blue-eyed soul acts in the UK and US, they got on with putting together an album that brings pop and jazz to a melodious and funky stew.
The result is a rare thing: largely electronic soul music that isn’t a contradiction in terms. It’s probably what Jill Scott or Eryka Badu might be doing if they spent too much time hanging out with Donald Fagen.
The key to it all is the freshness they bring to a number of different vintage and almost-vintage sub-genres – funk, Motown, jazz/funk, synth soul and so on. By so completely understanding what each vibe should be, they can approach from any direction they feel like. What sets them apart in this area, however, is that all of it carries their own unique stamp, and it never sounds like they’re fooling around in a musical dressing-up box. This happens because, no matter how straightforward they appear, Hannibal’s backing tracks have a depth to them that allows him to layer in all sorts of subtleties, providing such a solid counterpoint to Coco O’s singing that she can take on all sorts of guises without a worry.
Moods vary from the dreamy, almost ethereal Day, with backing so minimal you almost have to strain to know it’s there, to the robustly swinging and classically Motown Pressure, in which Coco O’s vocals are stacked on top of each other to give her some Supremes-y harmonies. Quadron really excel on Jeans, Average Fruit and Simili Life: here they run a range of crisp, intricate jazz/funk that shows how the style can be, respectively, snappy and sinewy, dreamy and smoothly urgent.
Beyond these highs, tracks like the playful Unpatience and Horse – a slab of late-1980s-type funk – show that they aren’t afraid to let a synth actually sound like a synth. But throughout the album, never is the notion of musical delicacy mistaken for being a wimp, and the duo delivers some very modern and very moving soul music.