Ghost Funk Orchestra

Ghost Funk Orchestra soundtracks the "Asphalt Homeland"

If the long awaited Cagney & Lacey movie ever comes to fruition (sorry, I don't consider the TV movies canon) I'm going to immediately start an online petition to make "Asphalt Homeland" the opening credit music--played as the camera slowly pans over the asphalt homeland of Lower Midtown Manhattan until landing on our two sometimes harried but always resolutely determined lady detectives. And sure, the new single by Ghost Funk Orchestra is a good deal less boob-tube bouncy and peppy than the original TV theme song, but that's good because it'll help Cagney & Lacey make the transition to the big screen with the help of some dramatic, cinematic music.

Of course this isn't to imply that bandleader/songwriter/arranger/producer Seth Applebaum only writes music appropriate for a Cagney & Lacey type show. To the contrary, Seth is a one-man "library music" machine whose music could just as easily be used to score urban dramas, medical dramas, gangster epics, or even wild comedies and super action films but with a distinct golden-era approach harkening back to a time when jazz and funk and rock and Latin music and psychedelic music (and many other genres besides) often shared equal space on a single soundtrack.

Take the song called "Fuzzy Logic" for example (see video above) which stays true to its title by rejecting Boolean either/or logic in favor of multiplicity and suggestive ambiguity. It starts off sounding like the dramatic opening moments to a classic spy soundtrack or a caper movie with its dissonant stabs of brass and syncopated hi-hat cymbal--not to mention how the music video's use of color gels and multiple exposure give it a strong Bond pre-credit sequence vibe--before sliding into a groove that's laid back enough to be Sade-approved but with some vaguely uneasy lyrics (and a brief Bill Withers "I know" interlude, may he rest in peace) sung to enchanting effect by regular vocal collaborator Romi Hanoch (PowerSnap). And then about one minute in the song takes another turn with a breakdown section featuring flamenco-style clapping and dub-like echo and surf guitar reverb before circling back to the second verse and then later ending with a concise but still pretty epic solo outro traded between baritone sax and flute.

Seriously, put this song on in the car next time you're cruising around and it's guaranteed to make you feel like a total badass even if you're just heading to 7-11. Or put on almost any GFO song because they rarely skimp on the funkiness, the ghostliness, or the intricate orchestrations. And did I say "one-man show"? In reality, Ghost Funk Orchestra is more like a ten-to-twelve-man-and-woman machine because you know it can't be easy making music this elaborate alone and especially not if you plan to play live. And by the way seeing GFO live is a wonderful thing that will presumably happen again someday soon. 


So, if you lack familiarity with the Ghost Funk prior to "Asphalt Homeland," their most recent full-length An Ode To Escapism (2020) is a good place. The album features a shift array of musical emotional hues that still manage to flow together as a continuous whole--more that fulfilling the promise of the album's title. And just case you happen to forget the stated purpose of the album while listening there's an intermittent GPS Lady voiceover reminding you that "as long as your headphones are on...you're safe, and hidden" and it never hurts to be reminded of that. (Jason Lee)

   

Fresh Buzz: Ghost Funk Orchestra Releases Single, "Skin I'm In"

The output of NYC-based Ghost Funk Orchestra is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and the group is also playing more frequently this year, which is always a good sign. Their most recent LP release, A Song For Paul (a band member's grandfather) is a complex matter propelled by a 10-piece band comprising horns, woodwinds, strings, keys, a tambourine, on top of the expected drums/bass/guitar. Their latest single "Skin I'm In" is an excersize of restrained psychedelia at times reminiscent of unforgettable British band Broadcast.

Featuring effected vocals that span layers of groovy orchestral textures, the single seemlessly blends elements from ganres as disparate as funk, noise rock and Eastern music. This is one of the coolest track we stumbled upon this year; you can check out Ghost Funk Orchestra at Elsewhere on July 30th at 8 PM. - Susan Moon

   

Ghost Funk Orchestra brings their dark soul to Brooklyn Bazaar on 04.04

NYC group Ghost Funk Orchestra will be taking the stage at Brooklyn Bazaar on April 4th, and they will be bringing the sounds of their 2017 record Something Evil with them. In songs like “Fluorescent,” the group uses Djembe rhythms to lure the listener into a vortex of funky basslines and soulful vocals, their odd time signatures keeping you at the epicenter of the jam. The nine-piece ensemble of Julian Applebaum (bass), Seth Applebaum (guitar), Kyle Beach (drums), Stephen Chen (bari sax), Laura Gwynn (vocals/keyboard), Romi Hanoch (vocals/percussion), James Kelly (trombone), Joshua Park (guitar), and Rich Seibert (trumpet) utilizes every instrument at their disposal to craft a type of “heavy soul” or “dark funk” sound that fits their namesake. If you are up for something new, we recommend checking them out. - Rene Cobar