Propagating a lush sci-fi funk first initiated by the likes of Matthew Dear and Cristian Vogel, German band Woman explore everything from the percussive ends of tribal house and ambient dub to a pulsing, tropical electrofunk on their latest release, Happy Freedom. The band has quite a knack for evoking an ’80s atmosphere and mood of outmoded technology (think an early ‘80s computer classroom that just replaced typewriting classes) and reframing the evocation through a thoroughly modern perspective of digital communication.
Opening track “Dust” begins with the rumbles of Afro-Brazilian percussion and ends on the ripples of a synthesizer à la Orchestral Movements in the Dark. Leading single “Marvelous City” goes Invaders of the Bodysnatchers via some beefed-up Depeche Mode funk. Woman borrow from a respective distance but always turn the influences into something truly their own.
Things get a bit rockier and harder on “Concrete Jungle” when they break out the electric guitar, as well as “Khung Bo (Terror)”, which matches smooth for crude with a mean guitar keeping time with a moody piano lick. There are even some appropriations of Motown funk that find their way into these ten numbers, and there are vocal harmonies and falsetto croonings strongly reminiscent of ‘80s R&B pop.
This percussion-heavy album finds indomitable grooves in jams like “Money”, a stop-and-start number that churns with a smoldering electronic bassline, and the synth-sprayed “Love”, which is peppered with angular electric guitar. With all the cross-pollination of styles and genres going on here, Happy Freedom may be the only album to make you think of Marvin Gaye and Kraftwerk at the same time.