Lock up your white Persians and doomsday machines; Osaka Punch’s latest release “Voodoo Love Machine” channels some serious 70’s James Bond mojo in a smattering of funk and hard rock that will keep feet tapping and the sideburns and moustaches thick.
A bit of backstory: Osaka Punch hail from Brisbane, but before laying down a proper release they headed to the UK to chase the music dream. However, they’ve now returned, and the product of the time spent touring and writing between Brisbane and the UK is this new record, Voodoo Love Machine.
The album begins with the flair and drama of Theme to Voodoo Love Machine, which drags listeners kicking and screaming back to the late 70’s with an infectious funk beat that doesn’t relent throughout the entire release. There’s smatterings of bass, theatrical strings and brass, major 9th guitar jams and layered vocals, and that drum beat, that drives Voodoo Love Machine from go to wo.
Osaka punch have managed to distil the biting cynicism of funk and poured it in layers across a soundtrack of 70s imagery and social critique. Particularly lyrically poignant is Actibreeze, which thrusts the listener into a nightmarish infomercial that makes no apologies for kicking all that is wrong with commercialism to the curb. It is tracks like this that make Voodoo Love Machine a dizzying listening experience; it constantly blurs the line between fun, energetic funk that you can’t help but tap your toe to, and a darker undercurrent that from time to time rears its head in the form of outbursts of hard rock or some scathing lyrical brilliance.
A particular highlight of the record is the instrumental track five, Sex Panther. It comes in low and slow with all the mystique and tongue-n-cheek funk clichés of something between a Bond film and an old-school porno before exploding into a driving prog rock jam. The bass work and percussion is particularly powerful on this track, and provide a solid, pounding framework for the howling guitar and piano tradeoffs that lay across them. As the track builds, the whispering of guitar string scrapes, delicate cymbal rolls and distant, reverbed vocals bring to mind Pink Floyd-esque vibes, that hang around just long enough to be perceived before completely succumbing to a fiery and infectious funk jam yet again. You can’t help but love this track, and it holds the listener captive right until the initial heavy metal blastings of Battleworm take over.
Considering how briefly Osaka Punch’s metal credentials have been displayed to this point, the pummelling turmoil of the instrumentation on Battleworm is very impressive. The guitars groove and slam around some incredibly tight drumming, all whilst maintaining the funk influences that make this record so much damn fun to listen to. Yet again the album takes an unexpected twist as the last notes of this track dissolve into a driving a cappella hook that begins track seven, Dancetown Showdown. From here all hell breaks loose, and at this point with the pistols-at-dawn dance off setting and the sheer theatrics of it all you could be forgiven for forgetting this record isn’t actually a film.
If Voodoo Love Machine were to be summed up in one word, it would be versatile. The sheer enormity of the score for this album, from the brass and strings, to the honky tonk piano, the beautifully harmonised vocals and the sound effects, this album brilliantly walks the fine line between corny and intelligent, combining both the comedic elements of an Austen Powers film with the seriousness of the soul and funk music and the social critique it has always provided. The result is a record which is a whole load of fun to listen to, whether you’re a fan of funk, prog or metal.
Without a doubt, Osaka Punch are capable of great things, especially if this debut release is anything to go by. They’re set to drop a new record in September, and Voodoo Love Machine was re-released through Birds Robe Records on the 30th of May. Take the plunge and give them a listen, you won’t be disappointed.
Review by Jordan Sibberas