[3 September 2007]
Producer and bandleader Pit Baumgartner didn’t stray too far from familiar ground on Days of Twang, the ninth album from German downtempo collective De Phazz. Featuring longtime vocal collaborators Barbara Lahr, Pat Appleton, and Karl Frierson, the disc revisits familiar terrain with Baumgartner’s trademark mix of laidback electronica, jazz, and soul. Unlike earlier albums, however, Baumgartner occasionally enlivened the mix with bits of funk, bluegrass, bossa nova, reggae, and even late ‘70s disco on “Boogie Philosophy”, the album’s most overtly dance-oriented track. After a brief detour through the Caribbean on the reggae-inflected “Better World” and “Le Petit Bastard”, the disc returns to more familiar territory with a trio of more conventional-sounding downtempo tracks starting with the mellow “It Will Turn Out Right”, followed by the incongruously titled “Devil’s Music” and the jazz-inflected shuffle of “Dancing With My Hands”. Although the second half of the album sounds a bit more like bog-standard downtempo on tracks like “Shadow of a Lie”, Baumgartner’s creative sampling keeps things interesting, from the banjo sample at the core of “What’s the Use Of . . . ? ” to the harmonica and bluesy guitar in “My Society”, both of which reminded me of Rooty-era Basement Jaxx. All in all, Days of Twang is an eclectic, interesting album that doesn’t stray too far from what De Phazz does best.