ALBUM: By Special Arrangement // ARTIST: The Bamboos
What do you do when all your previous material is solid gold and you're heading towards your 20th anniversary as a band? Remix? Rehash? Or totally reinvent? For many, it's an impossible question, but It's the latter for The Bamboos, aka one of Australia's most essential funk/soul architects, with their latest lush release By Special Arrangement packed full of orchestral reinventions of some of their best-loved songs.
Long revered for their innovative spirit and plush tunes, Melbourne outfit The Bamboos initially drew heavily from the well of late 60s/early 70s funk, before quickly establishing their flair for the unexpected - and their outrageously honed musical prowess. Helmed by bandleader Lance Ferguson and with trumpet extraordinaire Ross Irwin on arrangement duties, this funky bunch have since blended genres, feature artists and a pocketful of salaciously talented musos into an untouchable world of sonic bliss and careful design. And in true Bamboos fashion, their latest musical venture comes armed with reimagined versions of their own tracks (and a cheeky cover or two), laced with orchestral goodness and twinkling flair that paints these familiar tracks in brand new shades.
Kicking off with dramatically good vibes, the jaunty 'Keep Me In Mind' recalls a golden-age of breathy woodwind and lolling vocals, adequately setting the scene for the sweeping orchestral arrangements to follow. Up next, the serene 'Eliza' calls on previous Bamboos collaborator Washington (aka Megan Washington) for a gloriously calm outing that soothes right down to the bone, while 'Stranded' strips its textures right back with its warm and bellowing pianos.
Following on, 'By Special Arrangement' takes a welcome swaggering and woozy turn as Aussie indie king Tim Rogers emphatically leaps onto vocal duties for the cinematic blues ditty 'I Got Burned'. Carefully balancing some lavish orchestral arrangements with Rogers and his tactile charisma, it's here that we find yet another flavour to an already burgeoning candy shop of musical delights that exists in The Bamboos repertoire - and it's one that'll leave a devilishly untamed taste in your mouth long after the hazy tones subside.
I GOT BURNED FEAT. TIM ROGERS (THE BAMBOOS)
The following beauties 'Strong' and 'I Never' (pump into some immensely stirring territories, with the hauntingly familiar strains of London Grammar's 'Strong' echoing into the fervent 'I Never', showcasing feature artist Dan Sultan's powerhouse vocals while bringing a stunning and engaging twist to the equally beautiful original that featured Daniel Merriweather.
Soulful nostalgia is on the menu next with the carefree 'I Don't Wanna Stop' calmly bubbling its way coated in ambling basslines and warming strings, while 'Lit Up' sheds some textural complexity but still solidly packs some elegant power into a seemingly simplistic wonderland.
Closing tracks 'Stop' and 'The Truth' may differ in style, but both powerfully clasp onto The Bamboos' two decade history, oozing a completely reimagined version of Sam Brown's hit 'Stop!', before wrapping up on a jubilant note with the softly driving 'The Truth'.
While it's no great surprise that 'By Special Arrangement' is a glossy gem that conjures jazz, soul and the occasional poppish endeavour, what truly enthralls here is The Bamboos' willingness to redefine some of their most beloved musical moments in ways many others would not dare. From the darkly sensual flutters to fiercely emotional flashes, 'By Special Arrangement' takes you on a lavish journey that is simultaneously nostalgic and disarmingly broad-minded - and ultimately iactively justifies the ongoing adoration for The Bamboos while enthusiastically glancing into the ever-evolving future for one of the most substantial groups to have ever graced the industry.
BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT IS OUT IN THE WORLD NOW, AND IF YOU'RE IN MELBOURNE THIS WEEK YOU CAN CATCH THE BAMBOOS LIVE IN ACTION CELEBRATING THEIR BRAND NEW SONIC BABY. FOR TICKET INFO HEAD HERE, AND FOR ALL OTHER BAMBOOS INFO, HEAD HERE.
BY TIANA SPETER