Want something to be jazzed about? How about a new album from Galactic? Well, Galactic’s Carnivale Electricos is available for pre-order and is set to officiallyÂ drop on 2/21/12, but for now, we have it streaming for your listening pleasure.
Here is the lowdown on the new record:
To make Carnivale Electricos, the members of GALACTIC (Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards) draw on the skills, stamina, and funk they deploy in the all-night party of their annual Lundi Gras show that goes till sunrise and leads sleeplessly into Mardi Gras day.
GALACTIC was formed eighteen years ago in New Orleans, and they cut their teeth playing the biggest party in America: Mardi Gras, when the town shuts down entirely to celebrate.Â Carnivale Electricos is beyond a party record. Itâ€™s a carnival record that evokes the electric atmosphere of a whole city â€“ make that, whole cities â€“ vibrating together all on the same day, from New Orleans all down the hemisphere to the mighty megacarnivals of Brazil. Armed with a slew of carnival-ready guestsâ€”including Cyril and Ivan Neville, Mystikal, Mannie Fresh, Moyseis Marques, Casa Samba, the KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Band, and Al “Carnival Time” Johnson (who remakes his all-time hit)â€”GALACTIC whisks the listener around the neighborhoods to feel the Mardi Gras moment in all its variety of flavors.
Carnivale ElectricosÂ begins on a spiritual note, the way Mardi Gras does in the black community of New Orleans. On that morning, the most exciting experience you can have is to be present when the small groups of black men called Mardi Gras Indians perform their sacred street theater. Nobody embodies the spiritual side of Mardi Gras better than the Indians, whose tambourines and chants provide the fundament of New Orleans carnival music. These â€œgangs,â€ as they call them, organize around and protect the figure of their chief. The albumâ€™s keynote singer, BIG CHIEF JUAN PARDO, is, says Robert Mercurio, â€œone of the younger Chiefs out there, and heâ€™s become one of the best voices of the new Chiefs. Pardo grew up listening to the singing of the older generation of Big Chiefs, points out Ben Ellman, and â€œheâ€™s got a little Monk [Boudreaux], a little Bo Dollis, heâ€™s neither uptown nor downtown.â€
On â€œKarate,â€ says Ellman, the band was aiming to â€œcapture the powerâ€ of one of the fundamental musical experiences of Mardi Gras: â€œa marching band passing by you.â€ The 40-piece KIPP Renaissance High School Marching Bandâ€™s director arranged up GALACTICâ€™s demo, then the band rehearsed it until they had it all memorized. The kids poured their hearts into a solid performance, and, says Mercurio, â€œI think they were surprisedâ€ to hear how good they sounded on the playback.
Musical energy is everywhere at carnival time. â€œYou hear the marching bands go by,â€ says Mercurio, moving us through a Mardi Gras day, â€œand then you hear a lot of hiphop.â€ There hasnâ€™t been a Mardi Gras for twenty years that hasnâ€™t had a banging track by beatmaker / rapper MANNIE FRESH sounding wherever you go. â€œYou canâ€™t talk about New Orleans hiphop without talking about MANNIE FRESH,â€ says Ellman. His beats have powered literally tens of millions of records, and he and GALACTIC have been talking for years about doing something together. On â€œMove Fast,â€ heâ€™s together with multiplatinum gravel-voiced rapper MYSTIKAL, who is, says Ellman, â€œsomebody weâ€™ve wanted to collaborate with forever. It was a coup for us.â€
Out in the streets of New Orleans, you might well hear a funky kind of samba, reaching southward toward the other end of the hemispheric carnival zone. There has for the last twenty-five years been a smoking Brazilian drum troupe in town: CASA SAMBA, formed at Mardi Gras in 1986. Theyâ€™re old friends of GALACTICâ€™s from their early days at Frenchmen Streetâ€™s CafÃ© Brasil, and the two groups joined forces for a new version of Carlinhos Brownâ€™s â€œMagalenha,â€ previously a hit for SÃ©rgio Mendes.
But the Brazilian influence onÂ Carnivale Electricos goes beyond one song. â€œWhen we started this album, we all immersed ourselves in Brazilian music and let it get into our souls,â€ says Mercurio. The group contributed three Brazilian-flavored instrumentals, including â€œJuLou,â€ which riffs on an old Brazilian tune, though the name refers to the brass-funk Krewe of Julu, the â€œwalking kreweâ€ that Galactic members participate in on Mardi Gras morning. After creating the hard-driving track that became â€œO CÃ´co da Galinha,â€ they decided it would be right for MOYSÃ‰IS MÃRQUEZ, from the SÃ£o Paulo underground samba scene, who collaborated with them and composed the lyric.
If you were GALACTIC and you were making a carnival album, wouldnâ€™t you want to play â€œCarnival Time,â€ the irrepressibly happy 1960 perennial from the legendary Cosimo Matassa studio? Nobody in New Orleans doesnâ€™t know this song. The remake features a new performance in the unmistakable voice of the original singer, AL â€œCARNIVAL TIMEâ€ JOHNSON, whoâ€™s still active around town more than fifty years after he first gained Mardi Gras immortality.
The closing instrumental, ,â€œAsh Wednesday Sunrise,â€ evokes the edginess of the post-party feeling. The group writes, â€œThere is the tension you feel on that morning — one of being worn out from all of the festivities and one of elation that you made it through another year.â€
But, as New Orleanians know, thereâ€™s always another carnival to look forward to, and GALACTIC will be there, playing till dawn and then going to breakfast before parading.
STREAM THE NEW RECORD IN ITS ENTIRETY HERE!