Rodney Hunter: Hunter Files

[25 July 2004]

By Tim O'Neil

G-Stone doesn’t release very many records. I’d almost be tempted to call it a boutique label, but for the fact that it also happens to be one of the most influential electronic music labels of the past ten years. There is really no mistaking a G-Stone release for anything else, despite the fact that everyone and their brother have been trying to sound like G-Stone since the day Kruder & Dorfmeister’s G-Stoned EP dropped way back in 1995.

G-Stone belongs to Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister. The label is dedicated solely to releasing their music, in addition to the music of their friends. As such, even though the label has been around for over a decade, Hunter Files is still only numbered at G-Stone CD020. So, the release of anything is cause for celebration. Nowhere near as much a cause for celebration as an actual honest-to-God Kruder & Dorfmeister full length LP would be, but at this rate I think we’ll see that one about the day after we get Chinese Democracy.

The esteemed Mr. Hunter is an old confederate of the G-Stone crew, having known Peter Kruder since the third grade. He played with Kruder in a Viennese hip-hop band called the Moreaus. About the time that Kruder met Dorfmeister and split off to form the G-Stone massive, Hunter and Werner Geier formed Uptight Records. After over a decade’s experience producing and remixing in the classic Vienna style, K & D finally asked Hunter to come play in their yard by producing an album for G-Stone.

The distinctive G-Stone sound is definitely in full effect. Every beat on this album sounds as crisp as a fresh $100 bill. There’s a certain intangible bounce to everything that comes anywhere near Messrs. Kruder & Dorfmeister, a slightly indistinct yet totally vivid shock to the system. I would hesitate short of saying that it totally recreates the experience of smoking massive amounts of pot, but that is only because the enhancement of illegal narcotics is hardly necessary to appreciate the bountiful gifts of the G-Stone catalog. They smoke all the marijuana so you don’t have to.

But despite the sonic similarities, there are certain striking differences between Hunter and his labelmates. For one thing, Hunter isn’t afraid to write a track that someone might want to dance to, instead of just shuffling around the house in your bare feet.

The album kicks off with “Electric Lady”, an effusively funky slab of pseudo-salsa with a smattering of odd doo-wop vocals in the background. “Work That Body” is a loping, sinister and slightly sensual track, which manages to mine a singularly hip groove for over five and a half minutes, (despite the fact that it sounds for the life of me like the groove from the Stereo MCs’ “Connected”).

The energy ramps up with “Let Your Soul Guide Your Heart”, which features the kind of stuttering syncopated hi-hat and bridge-cable bassline that signifies funky from sea to shining sea. My personal favorite off the album would have to be “Quero Saber”, which is something like a stoned electro track with some sexy Spanish mutterings courtesy of Orieta Pires. “There’s a Reason” spits some hip-hop into the mix, with guest appearances by Clumzy T, Ra Face, and Ken Cesar. Despite the laid-back groove that dominates the album, it must also be noted that much of the album, including this track, hearkens to an earlier era of electronic music when house and hip-hop commingled much more freely than they do now.

Taking a break from the midtempo, “Take a Ride” drops down into the type of samba-inflected Brazilian nu-jazz so popular with the Glucklich crowd (albeit with the odd vocal house element thrown in). “Is This Your Boy”, featuring another vocal from Ken Cesar, places a standard male house vocal over a shuffling Latin beat to interesting effect. By the time the album wraps up with “You’re Not Alone”, an elongated smooth funk jam, you realize that Hunter is a master craftsman with every intention of putting a blissed-out smile on your face before the night is through.

Hunter Files is hardly a perfect album, but its flaws are so modest as to be easily forgiven. As with much of G-Stone’s scant output, it lacks the gravity of Kruder & Dorfmeister’s distinctively elliptical brand of trip-hop. But what it lacks in gravity it more than makes up for in the realms of soulful craftsmanship.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/hunterrodney-hunter/