Cygnus is the long-time project of Electro visionary Phillip Washington; hailing from Dallas, Texas, who returns to Fundamental Records after a couple of previous releases on the label such as the album "Cosmos", or perhaps his recent EP "De Gatos And Cocodrilos"; part of the Eclectic Electrics boxset, with what may easily his best and most extensive title up to date.
With Machine Funk, Cygnus delivers the highly sophisticated music we have come to know from him; which has been gracefully evolving over the years, with a vinyl release that also carries that wow factor that only a few labels like Fundamental Records can deliver on. On this 3 disc package we have 2 black vinyls, along with a stellar picture disc, and a high quality gatefold sleeve design. While supplies last, a t-shirt is also included with a purchase of the record. The cover art alone is truly stupendous, and the concept; while nothing completely new, is also intriguing enough especially when guided by the specific style of Cygnus' Afro-Futurist Electro.
Starting off with "Shadows of Jocasta", Cygnus infuses a mid-tempo tune with rich vocoders, featuring all that melodic wonder of old school Electro Funk titles, yet coupled with the magic of artists like Drexciya, and the gleaming synths and acidic basslines and sequences that will infiltrate deep into your neural system like the uploading of an advanced transhumanist code.
Coming next, "Midnight Wreckers" switches between broken and 4x4 beats every so often, driven by a crisp bassline and the continuation of something you will find to be a commonality throughout this great album: rich, alluring, if not at times haunting vocoder work! Another tune that you will find along this vein on Machine Funk is "Black Market", this one a bit more relentless, reminding me a bit of some of the work by The Exaltics; minimal at times, but nevertheless having melodic bits fall upon it like acid rain in a dystopian
This new album by Cygnus offers a nice balance of styles, though in the same respect there is a signature sound you will find throughout. If you are looking for the more funky, and even slightly aggressive, songs like Vidiot, Urban Living, and Hypnotized will satisfy your neurons with a shrewd attitude that looks to the future with an eye to the past. Piercing sequences, decadent synths, warm Electro beats, and groovy basslines...what more can you ask for?
Then of course there's the perplexing magic of songs like Zeta Block, Commodore Hacker, Machine Wave, and The Kenji Corporation, which dive deep into the concept of the album; a futuristic world of Man-Machines, and a dystopian future where our world is ran by elite, technocratic mega-corporations, with mystique, a slight bit of vulnerability, and plunges into vast and deep emotive seas of warm, enigmatic synth work.
It goes without saying that this new outing by Cygnus is an instant classic in every way. A collector's must in presentation alone, but once you embrace the innovative, tenacious, and rather profound music inside, you will see why Machine Funk will go down as one of the best albums of 2019. Highly recommended! Best news is, this is the first part in a series of 4 vinyl outings on Fundamental Records, so stay tuned for the next three to be announced! For now, secure your copy, as this is a very limited release.