Album Review: Sa-Ra Creative Partners: Nuclear Evolution the Age of Love

They were the visionary beat providers on Pharoahe Monch’s brief comeback and full on anti-war cry “Agent Orange”. They stole the show with their ingenious production on Erykah Badu’s recent New Amerykah project. They are Sa-Ra Creative Partners and their new album is a bit like what happens when a disquieting ball of sound is jettisoned at the speed of light toward an unsuspecting eardrum from somewhere beyond the fringes of the solar system. In other words Nuclear Evolution: The Age of Love is a hit; a wild, wicked, cosmic thrill, a hedonistic joyride through the history of soul, which cuts through the present and crash lands at the future of funk.

Ok so the above might sound like more of an album advertisement than an album review, but when you’re dealing with the likes of Om’Mas Keith, Taz Arnold, and Shafiq Husayn, the LA based trio who have collectively worked with Zulu Nation, Duran Duran, Ice T, Common, Prince, Lord Finesse and Dr Dre – and whose name, according to them, effectively translates to mean ‘the most powerful energy in the universe’, it’s no mere question of is their new album any good? It’s more a question of how good.

So how good? Good enough for you to be humming away to the catchy Bossa Nova bass of track 1 (“Space Fruit”) by the time you get to the infectious funk which is “Dirty Beauty” (track 2), good enough for the thundering drums of track 3 (“I Swear”) to be buzzing inside your brain like some electronic fly, after just one listen, and good enough, in fact, to be slightly difficult to listen to because each song seems to contain its own universe, its own personal story, as well as its own conviction that it needs to be learnt like a hymn, cross referenced and travelled through.

That is, of course, until you get to disc 2, which, despite a proficient cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Like a Baby” and the underground hit “Death of a Star,” is not quite as consistent as disc 1 and more of a bonus compliment to the fans then an actual secondary part of the album.

That said there is no part, element or department of Nuclear Evolution lacking in either soul or technical merit. The vocals are recorded with a sense of lightness and honesty, Sa-Ra experiment with synthesisers but never too much as to wash the songs of structure. And the tracks all seem so personal, so closely knitted to the lives of the group that it feels like you’re listening to the electronic extensions of their natural selves. A hit indeed.

David M*

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