Transglobal Underground’s latest effort, Yes Boss Food Corner, is a stylish and solid album, perhaps not quite on a par with their previous releases, but overall a very worthy addition to their corpus of work. TGU burst on the London dance scene in the early ‘90s and staked out a strong claim in that particular circuit. Their refusal to adhere to stringent pop conventions quickly earned them a reputation as a radical and culturally diverse band. TGU embraced African, East Indian and Arabic vocal and rhythmic traditions, giving them a unique, hypnotic and original sound. This polyphony of influence and doctrine proved that TGU were a formidable club band that could also deliver groundbreaking conceptual music. TGU have always been about breaking down barriers and proving that music can cross traditionally divisive lines of color, race, or class. TGU have consistently shown that music is about communication, a desire to communicate with the listener and hopefully to have the listener communicate something back. In that regard, Yes Boss Food Corner is no exception.
The album consists of 10 solid tracks that once again explore TGU’s familiar cultural landscape. Strings are featured more prominently on this release, however. The inclusion of a string section is a welcome embellishment; it blends in effortlessly and smoothly while adding a deep resonance to the band’s overall sound. The album begins with an excellent cut befittingly entitled “The Drums of Navarone”, a hard-hitting and tempo-accelerating ode to the wonderful world of percussion. It’s a remarkable track to open the disc; however, I cannot seem to find its equal in the ensuing tracks. “Pomegranate” may come close, though. It recalls the TGU of yore with a haunting and seamless melody that makes exceptional use of the string section.
As one would expect, the album is a mixed bag—there are several choice cuts to be sure, and yet it seems to have (for me at least) an excessive portion of ethno-funk stylings. In fact, Yes Boss Food Corner embraces funk traditions in a way that previous efforts did not. Many of the tracks have an extended funk-jam quality that is fairly unusual for TGU; in the past, the sheer variety of styles was the unifying theme for an album. Here, however, the funk quotient has been supercharged, so if you think you might enjoy a generous helping of funk in your TGU, Yes Boss Food Corner will surely deliver.
Sadly, Natacha Atlas is not present on this album and her influence is indeed missed. However, bands do go on and TGU has done just that.
Yes Boss Food Corner is a new sound on a new album for a new millennium and, all in all, it’s a notable effort. It’s perhaps not as intoxicating as TGU’s previous endeavors, but very worthwhile. If you are ever dissatisfied with a Transglobal Underground release—you can be sure that the next one will be substantially different. Reinvention is their middle name.