Mental note: Never expect normal conversation from a guy named Duminie DePorres. DePorres talks like a burned-out cell phone. One question will set off minutes of rapidly transmitted, quippy answers. Then he stops and waits for the next inquiry. It’s a spacey kind of intelligence that makes for some real good quotes.
Take the question about how folks have been responding to the unconventional funk of his group Soul Clique’s sophomore album, Unification. "People have said it’s the best record to have sex to. They’ve said things like ‘Between the first and second album, what would’ve taken some groups four records to do, you all have done in two.’"
Whoever said that was referring to Soul Clique’s growth. The quartet — Joseph Hayden (bass), James "The Blackman" Harris (turntables), Ken Scott (drums) and DePorres (guitar) — formed two years ago when three of them (Scott is new) left their previous band, Enemy Squad. On the heels of an unfriendly breakup that all agreed not to discuss, the trio acted on a mutual commitment to continue gettin’ down for the funk of it. Two albums later, Soul Clique has sired a sound that is funkier and more attractive.
But wait. DePorres isn’t finished. "The first album was a skeleton. This one has some tendons and organs. The next, we’ll put skin on it, give it some hair, take it to Louis the Hatter." His appreciation is for the freedom the group now has to gel without pressure. "Certain energies get developed as you play more. The more you get to know ‘em, the more things come up. And people start to let their inner freak out."
Stop there. If you want to know what Soul Clique’s sound is, "inner freak" will do just fine. Soul Clique albums do not have lyrics, and they have not used singers in the studio. Sure, the group intended to record a vocalist on one of the cuts for Unification, but it never came together. And what the hell, anyway. It might have been redundant. After all, what they have now made a rabbi lose his mind at a gig in New York City. "We were playing, and everybody was looking behind me. I turn around, and this Jewish rabbi is waving his hands, like he’s conducting or something."
DePorres talks about the ways others have responded at Soul Clique’s live performances. He rattles off a number of reactions they get on a regular basis. The folks who close their eyes and roll their necks, as if the music becomes a substitute for ‘ludes or something. The others who shake their heads, seemingly dancing to the spirit of the music, after being delivered at its doorstep by the sound. These are the reactions DePorres expects to get when S.C. plays the Motor Lounge on Dec. 18, a joint they play with some frequency. This time around, though, Jazzhead’s joining them for "Absolution 1.0," a benefit for Gleaners to put coats on backs and food in bellies (bring a coat or canned goods to donate and get five bucks off at the door).
The Clique brings back that old armpit funk by letting the instruments speak at a time when lyrics too often misplace their intimacy. It’s a sound for 2000 that the world will want to hear. After all, there’s not a big satellite dish on their album cover for nothing. Bone up and see them now, so you can legitimately claim to have "known them" when they were playing local spots.
And remember to bring your inner freak. For the freak knows the funk, and the funk shall set you free. Khary Kimani Turner covers the hip-hop nation for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]