In three tracks, Chief Keegan have mastered the fabled groove. They have harnessed its subtleties and steer it in their own creative direction. Riding its momentum like a surfer on the perfect wave.
‘Full Salmon’ moves with the pace and flow of an Elmore Leonard novel or Quentin Tarantino movie – gritty, rolling, and fun. Where Vulfpeck mine disco for glittering gems, Chief Keegan have delved into the bedrock of funk. Setting themselves firmly atop its unwavering base.
Their hooks are not melodic nor lyrical – there is no singer – but rhythmic. And like James Brown they have forsaken harmonic movement in favour of the physical force of the rhythm section. On opening track Land Shark, it’s the shifts from one rhythm to the next that leave the impression. And the intro of following track Crispy Salmon Behaviour is a single note that stabs into the groove beneath it. Emphasising the pulse as the bass and keyboards move together. A swirl of electric sound.
Closing track El Gucho slows down and snakes through its run-time. With a sly, artful rhythm that is held aloft by the strength of the rhythm section. The guitar takes the spotlight that is occupied by the organ on the other two tracks. Unleashing a storm of sixties-isms that are given a new life in this funkier context. And when the organ reclaims its throne it is with all the joyous style of the instrument’s masters.
The three tracks on ‘Full Salmon’ prove that it is possible to be adventurous and simple. That the outer realms of musical exploration are not the territories of bloated egos. Chief Keegan occupy the space fist opened up by Miles Davis on ‘On The Corner.’ Between jazz, funk, and hard rock. But where Davis’s adventures in this realm were abrasive and jarring, Chief Keegan have smoothed out the edges. Without dulling the music’s potency.
‘Full Salmon’ is simultaneously of this time and another. Only with the benefit of hindsight can such classic genres be melded together so seamlessly.
But the singularities of each of the genre-ingredients in the Chief Keegan sound place them firmly in bygone decades. Like Roxy Music in the seventies, they have raided the past to build the future. And in their new contexts, these genres can be viewed from a new perspective. And admired in that new light like diamonds.