The Funky Knuckles, The Way It Is Review

Cheese, Chromatics, and Chaos: An Exploration of The Funky Knuckles' The Way It Is


The Funky Knuckles, The Way It Is Review

Cheese, Chromatics, and Chaos: An Exploration of The Funky Knuckles’ The Way It Is

by Nolan DeBuke

the-funky-knuckles-cdThe Funky Knuckles continue their navigation of eccentric soundscapes with their fifth album, The Way It Is. The Funky Knuckles are still pushing the envelope of jazz-funk fusion, a genre they have uniquely defined over a decade-long musical journey, with these ten new songs. Ben Bohorquez (saxophone), Ethan Ditthardt (guitar), Kwinton Gray (keyboards), Cedric Moore (drums, cymbals), Wes Stephenson (bass), and Evan Weiss (trumpet) together delve into harmonic complexities and mind-blowing rhythms, crafting a sound that shatters norms and flirts with the surreal. Born from the damp cave of their 2020-2021 retreat, the album is a testament to the band’s relentless pursuit of the avant-garde, a sonic exploration that pairs well with Hulk Hogan and shrimp cocktail but decidedly less so with lactose intolerance. As whimsical as the claim of it being recorded entirely onto analog blocks of cheese, The Way It Is proffers an experience that is bound to be as memorable as it is unpredictable, luring listeners into the realm of the extraordinary.

“I Believe,” the opening track on The Funky Knuckles’ album, immediately pulls you into an aural vortex with its catchy circular melody underpinned by a rhythmic scaffold woven masterfully by Moore and Stephenson. This isn’t just a groove; it’s a rhythmic revolution that explodes with texture and dynamism. Yet, the band reveals a knack for balancing this sonic frenzy with breaths of tranquility, allowing the listener to inhale and ‘breathe the cheese’ amidst peaks of intensity. Ditthardt’s guitar solo is like a cosmic dance, intertwining jazz fluidity with funky gyrations; his innovative use of chromatic approach notes paints intriguing sonic hues across the soundscape. Not to be outdone, Weiss steps into the spotlight with a solo that flows like a river through a landscape of eclectic effects, adding layers of captivating textures. Their turn-based solos, each building to a thrilling climax, inject an undeniable power into this opening selection. A testament to The Funky Knuckles’ adventurous spirit, “I Believe” is a musical portal beckoning listeners to dive deeper into their unique sonic universe.

Following on the heels of the energetic opening, “Montana” unfolds as a contrapuntal musical escapade, marrying a pulsating groove with staccato bursts of horns and warmly distorted guitar parts. In this landscape of sound, a mass of counterpoint is delivered, painting a canvas of intricate musical interactions. The multi-layered solo section serves as the playground for Weiss, who, like a jazz virtuoso on a mission, unravels an exhilarating solo that breathes life into the track. Then, in a sonic twist, Ditthardt enters the fray, engaging Weiss in a contrapuntal dance during the solo, a captivating duet of notes weaving their magic. As if this was not contrapuntal enough, Gray joins this lively exchange, transforming it into a spirited trio improvisation over an infectiously active groove. The resulting sonic blast triggers an onslaught on the senses; the audacious musical journey might make one wonder, “Is this too much?” Yet, in the realm of The Funky Knuckles, there’s no such thing as ‘too much’; the answer will always be a resounding “NO!” This daring exploration of sound and rhythm encapsulates The Funky Knuckles’ audacious spirit as they challenge and redefine the very boundaries of the genre.

In an era saturated with homogenized sounds, The Funky Knuckles shatter the mold, leading listeners on a sonic adventure with their latest album, The Way It Is. From album traverses the dizzying intensities of the dynamic interplay of grooves and melodies.  The Way It Is stretches the elasticity of jazz-funk fusion, bending it into imaginative new shapes. Throughout this daring musical journey, the band weaves a complex tapestry of rhythm, melody, counterpoint, and harmony that defies expectations, pushes boundaries, and truly embodies the spirit of their apt album title. The audacious performances by Bohorquez, Ditthardt, Gray, Moore, Stephenson, and Weiss not only showcase their individual virtuosity but reveal a chemistry refined over a decade.

With The Way It Is, The Funky Knuckles dare you to venture beyond the comfort zone of the familiar and delve into the realm of the extraordinarily decadent.  So, go ahead and take a big bite of that funky, fragrant cheese – immerse yourself in the unpredictable, the unusual, and the unforgettable. You may understand it, you may not, but that’s just The Way It Is. This is not just music; it’s an audacious act of sonic defiance that invites you to dance along to the rhythm of their rules, their risks, and their revolution.

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