First there was Enemy Squad with United State of Mind (for those of you still waiting on the new Funkadelic project, this will funk you up and rock you out nicely til then). Now up from the warped depths of producer, writer, drummer, conceptualist and visionary supreme Gabe "Undi$co Kidd" Gonzales' Funk Labs comes "Enemy Squad presents Ultra Unit- the Angel Dust Theory", the motor booty city compilation volume one. Make no mistakes about it, this is a groove so universal it can only be classified as "stank funk-hop on the R&B (uh, that be rythum and bizzness) groovealistic tip!! It's a 180 degree departure from the rocked out psychedelicized pfunk of "United State".
Gabe has described Enemy Squad (or E Squad) as not just a band but an ever evolving concept full of fresh ideas and mad flayvaa. And from the opening refrain of the "Underground Departure Prelude" which suggests this Angel Dust is not to be confused with "the psychedelic drug of the 60s, but an amalgam of musicians coming full circle emitting transinducing pulsations", you will quickly get the impression its in a galaxy all its own. The listener is taken into a mind zone where peace, love, togetherness and unity all collide and co-exist over a millenium backdrop of drum loops and samples, raspy vocal chants, positivity vibes and raps, Gabe G.'s impeccable live drumming skills on the set, and Bubs and Amp Fiddler's distinctive keyboardizms and bass lines. Recorded on and off the road over several months towards the end of the 90s and featuring several PFunk All-Stars including Michael Clip Payne, the project goes a long way at proving one can be seriously funky and smoove at the same time. Its even got that commercial appeal to it, several tracks would be a much welcomed alternative to the watered down, formulatic stale state of much in the current world of placebo black radio. Gabe and his funky multitudes are kicking plenty of attitude with "Maddizms" in your ear. Track two begins with what sounds like and upright, acoustic bassline and a tight, taught rap. Some GC-esque backing vocals complete the track and augment the rapping like they ought to. On "Mysterious", UltraUnit combines a truly dreamy synth line with the trademark laid back "floating" backing vocals as the Undi$co Kidd hisself proclaims, "ain't I tough, all that stuff, coming out my bag of tricks".
This is some laid back smoothed out FONK!! "Street Riding in the Hood all Dusted" seems to borrow from Mr. Fiddler's "Wanna be a Gangster" vocal style as it 'gets funky' with a virtual kaleidescpoe of sounds as the drum beat powers along a super kool cadence. The whole cd seems to percolate along at this mid-tempo almost "pimp" beat as you slide into track five, the pleading "Yeah, Come on People". On "Don't do That to Me", UltraUnit enlists the services of that funky Bride of Funkenstein for all time, Dawn Silva (who Gabe recorded while on tour with Bernie Worrell's Woo Warriors during the fall of 99). She croons her trademark vocals over a groove that's slow, mellow, and fonkay with a low down bass synth taking things all the way to the bottom of the Pee.The groove here is augmented by an old vinyl crackling, popping sound I especially like the flayvaa on, kinda puts that Bille Holiday vibe on it.
Some are sure to ask, 'how many variations on George Clinton's Atomic Dog can we have?' UltraUnit proceeds to turn the mutha upside down and inside out for a super funked up, high octane vamp into dogdom with "Still Gettin' Dogged". The jam contains some hilariously funky synth sqiggles and giggles and a rythmic guitar vamp over the now infamous backbeat and the results are both slamming and smoldering! I didn't think it could be done but THIS dog really bites, and hard too! Sounds like "Procrastination reaps Hesitation" borrows a little from the early eighties pre- hip hop flayvaa of "Buffalo Girls", again those dreamy keyboardisms hit hard here. Gabe's most pronouced live drumming of the set thus far occurs on the song "Hip Hop Time Capsule". Here those super warped keys are augmented by some truly inspired old skool turntables scratching taken to an almost absurd extreme.
The voice of Austin Powers is scratched into a frenzy of 'yee-aaa babeees'. Some of the cd's most engaging riffs and beats are found over the top of "Freaky Deaky Baby" with the Undi$co Kidd coming down hard on the cymbals, the keys are not unlike a long piece of stretched out taffy that manage to snap back and stay sweet to the end. Alright, time to get rocked out, you seem to almost sense this is coming as you near the end of "Angel Dust", on "Do What you Do", UltraUnit combines some truly Hampton-ish guitar vamps and an ever-decibel increasing synth and proceeds to work the sucka to death all over the top for that 'snowball' effect until it just collides with an eargasmic wall of sound. On "Chocolate" he again slows the beat down way funky and gets mellow on the smooth tip before again taking you "Up and Down" for just some straight up feel good ain't nothing but a party music from here on out. It's got all the flayvaa of an old skool rap throw-down from back in the Blue Lights in the Basement days. On "Rolling with Thunder" the piano man just keeps on getting down, sounds like Amp on this to me. Upright bass again closes out the set with the appropriate, "We've got Plenty of Styles". And thats just what you get with this cd, plenty of styles, what more can I say, its jazzy, sophisticated, funky, such as mellow, all of that, Gabe has struck again, and to think, he just kind of matter-of-factly put this together on the road. Kinda makes you shudder to think what he could do in a multi-track studio with a real budget, maybe George will let him produce the next Funkadleic record, but until then Enemy Squad will do nicely..*