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The Beat Cartel

Percussion Junction
The Beat Cartel

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Dazmedia - Inthemix.com.au 2008

What do you get when you cross a drummer, two bongo players, and a DJ? No joke.This is The Beat Cartel from Sydney-ites Percussion Junction. The new LP contains some seriously good rhythms, as you would expect, put together in a cohesive mix of breakbeat, funk, dub and hip-hop, with some choice remixes from other industry players. Press says they’ve been featured as ‘Album of the Week’ on Sydney’s FBi, and Perth’s RTR Full Frequency radio as well as getting that much-sought JJJ play with the single Bustdown Brown.

Percussion Junction have built their sound through much live performance supporting the varied likes of Krafty Kuts, Talvin Singh, Deekline & Wizard, Kid Kenobi, Koolism, Katalyst, and Hermitude to name a few. Their festival reputation is also well established with slots at Sydney Festival’s Becks Bar, Earthdance, and the Amnesty Freedom Festival. Their live setup includes drummers Matthew Bourne, Paul Issa, & Kane Goodwin with DJ Bentley on the ones & twos. Bustdown Brown kicks off the CD with a swaggering old school funk sound with a worldly vibe, with Good Budda’s Xela helping out with vocals. There are numerous remixes of this signature track on the album, all sounding different and earning their place alongside the original. Omegaman has a dig as does Meem and The Versionaries. All Out War has MC Gabi presenting a straight up, fast attack chick rhyme at a cracking pace. The Versionaries also have a remix of All Out War on here, downplaying the vocal.

Hardup has a vocodered vocal leading into another drum orgy. The tracks have been presented in a true dance floor style to provide a great backing for stomping the floor. The multitude of drummers never overwhelms the sound and I can just imagine the energy that would go into a live gig with all those hands slapping leather. Iron Eagle is a tougher sounding staccato stabbing number combine with a mean rap. Show Me The Money show a different sense of rhythm, taking cues from a 4/4 house beat to get the groove across with sexy disco vocals by Merenia Gillies. Castle (Part 1) and Castle (Part 2) are a tribal infused breakbeat ride into bongo madness. Last track Crunch is a high energy fast tempo percussion freak out with evil guitar stabs and accompanying solos, with a trippy trance-ish breakdown.

The CD is fattened up with the aforementioned remixes, which are good in themselves but break up what is a very interesting LP by a groundbreaking Australian act. The sound can also be considered very international and should project the group even further into many music listeners’ consciousness as one to check out whenever they are in town. A strong release for lovers of rhythm.

JODY MACGREGOR, Rave Magazine 2008

Sydney rhythm kings debut

Percussion Junction are three drummers and a DJ who mix live drumming with electronic beats, with results that sometimes sound like hip hop and sometimes house. Bustdown Brown is a downtempo, chilled funk song with guest appearance by Xela from Good Buddha while All Out War is a pelvis-driving, Kung Fu Fighting, dancefloor filler with assault vocals by MC Gabi. Iron Eagle drags a bit with vocalists Gina Mitchell and Nikkita banging on about TV and Playstation and horror and toy guns destroying our children, but most of the songs are carried over the bumps by pounding and pulsating rhythms. The second half of the album is mostly dubs and remixes; four versions of the first track is a bit much, but the originals are worth it. One for percussion junkies.

Nic Slattery, Independent Weekly 2008

The Beat Cartel is certainly a fitting title for Percussion Junction’s debut album. Each of its four members knew exactly what they wanted to do as a group when making this album and it shows. Essentially a dance album (though it crosses a variety of genres), it primarily consists of instrumental dance epics that are the foundations of nearly all (successful) modern dance albums. They pull them off with confidence and flair, especially “Crunch”, which brings the album to an adrenalin-fuelled close.

But it is the shorter, more experimental tracks that are the most fulfilling moments of the album. Musically, they could be likened to acts such as Daft Punk or Basement Jaxx, but their unique use of percussion adds just another layer enough to put them into a realm between genres, where they have borrowed parts of every type of music they could and have created something very different indeed.

On first listen, the album’s pace is the standout feature, the finishing hook in “All Out War”, “never stop this, never stop the party”, featuring as the perfect summation of the album. The pulsating yet melodic bass lines and the constant use of percussion keep the album moving until the end. My only complaint is the large number of remixes (namely the four remixes of “Bustdown Brown”) gives the impression that Junction is running a little short of material. However, the album’s high notes far outweigh the lows and this is a strong offering (that could potentially be excellent live) by a band that is at least trying to develop music and move forward to create something new.

The high point is “Show Me The Money”, a combination of one of their consistently-good percussive tracks with a strong vocal melody results in track with the most ‘staying power’.