So long division

Mar 10, 1999 at 12:00 am

In the burgeoning tradition of making music, as DJ Spooky says, "with fragments of the world," Detroit funk careerist outfit, Soul Clique, made its throbbing ambient paste-up debut in ’98. The crossbred CD, Only One Division (Small Stone Records), was pure alchemy: molten funked rock whipped up light and airy with electronic junk. Since then, the band has grown into its own seasoned trip-hop sound experiments – which makes a follow-up/catch-up that reflects this progress seem already overdue.

Guitarist Duminie DePorres (Enemy Squad, P-Funk All Stars et al.), James Harris (aka DJ Blackman) on loops and tables, and bassist Joseph Hayden (various Motown artists) had been playing together in more amorphous form for a few years before interest from Small Stone label head Scott Hamilton made Soul Clique click. The band recently added drummer Kenny Scott. The roots go deep but, luckily, they’re the kind the world still wants to hear and see. Having played with the likes of everybody who’s anybody sets Soul Clique atop a scarily solid rock foundation. So its new seamless flow of ethereal squeals, scratches and samples – special thanks to Riverdance – remains tightly in check. And DePorres’ Hendrix guitar antics certainly help that gravity.

So while the found sounds abound, there ain’t a haunting voice in the house that isn’t shaking its respective tail to one unifying beat. This is at least true of the energy and spontaneity of Soul Clique now – with a real, live drummer. The start-up CD tends to dwell a little more in the ambient haze, more at home groping for loops between the mechanical shifts of a drum machine than beading up with the aural sweat of Soul Clique live. Either way, Detroit should be grateful for a band that has the vision and grounding to bridge a gap most of us can’t even see across anymore.