I hope funk is the name of your game right now, because it would mean I get to talk incessantly about The Build, the new album from guitarist and producer, Thor Madsen and his solo project, Thor De Force. There is a lot to talk about, a lot to soak in and a hell of a lot to enjoy. The biggest challenge is attempting to find a foot wrong in the twelve-track instrumental opus. I gotta be honest, there really isn’t one.
Of course, there’s a chance you may have no love for loungey electronic sounds, especially ones nestled so neatly in the conventions of jazz. If that’s the case, then you’re unlikely to find an inch of this record appealing. It lives, breathes, and brandishes the retrospective sounds of funk from start to finish. It stirs them up in a concoction so vibrant, the temptation to dive in is too great to ignore by anyone with even the slightest leaning, but those outside of this sphere will remain equally outside after hearing it.
There you go, that’s the negative point out of the way. Now to judge the album on its own merits. First off, Thor Madsen pulls no stops in demonstrating how good a composer he is. The jazz and funk elements are huge. That goes almost without saying, but one of The Build‘s biggest selling points is just how much variety there is in the album. We get the full range of melodies and treatments, be it fast, slow, emotive or zany. It’s all there and performed across a neat plethora of instruments.
That said, and to the album’s credit, the distribution of moods isn’t completely equal. Sure it comforts and serenades on occasions, but this trait doesn’t endure for any significant length before some hefty bounce kicks in and joyfully lifts the tone. You may at certain points think you’re listening to a piece made in the 70’s disco era, or amidst the later R’n’B periods of the 80s and 90s. Throw in the occasional prog melody and sonic chime and your speculation may venture further out still. As contradictory as it may sound, think of The Build as the purist album that never settles in any one place.
Put all of this together, and you’ll find yourself with an energetic full-course musical feast. The Build‘s efficient structuring means that the best really is saved until last, with the fun refusing to let up, and finding new ways to manifest with each passing song. Each track is a self-contained gem with an ample dose of pulse, heart, and brains.
The Build is a seriously cool record. It’s well produced, the right level of complex, engaging, and most of all, funky as hell. Its charms are destined to make an impact on nearly all who sample it, and it’s a damn fine uplift for these times of uncertainty. Thor De Force is indeed a force to be reckoned with, and the hypnotic effects of its ultra smooth sounds are long-lasting. We can only give thanks to Mr Thor Madsen and his band for sharing their immaculate talents, and for putting all of us less funky humans to shame. We’re not worthy.