I often drag Mezzoforte, Cassiopeia, Level 42, Shakatak, Joachim Kuhn, and a bunch of 70s and later club hipsters into service when encountering work like Beat Funktion's 'cause there aren't a hell of a lot of valid examples of this type of material, though it was later re-introduced by Fattburger, Yellowjackets, Rippingtons, and similar outfits in a revised form. The key to Beat Funktion is Daniel Lantz (whose Plays Bond was covered here) and his keyboards. They form the central axle of the nine cuts presented, and that will come as no surprise in this genre. I get a lot of flak from fellow crits about this style of hi-toned work too readily identifiable with all the shlaga that issued over a few decades, but, when it's done right, and it all too often isn't, I love this stuff.
Not hard to tell why either. Equal parts jazz, rock, funk, dance, disco, and groove, the dominant element is firmly based in jazz, the Kudu / CTI 70s type that produced a lot of great releases and, to credit the opposition, way too much insipidity elsewhere. Moon Town sits firmly in the 'way cool' category, the Deodato / Freddie Hubbard / Passport / Lonnie Liston Smith / Jasper Van't Hof zone that cats like John Tropea, good as they may have been otherwise, just couldn't enter into on their own (heck, Joe Beck one-upped him in just one composition, Watch the Time). The bulk of the compositions are Lantz's, and he chose his ensemble impeccably beyond that. No one is less than fully involved in every moment of this nonet of songs loosely formed around the fictional, rain-slick, night city Moon Town, a place one would expect to wander through in the fugitive undersides of Blade Runner.
Atmospheric as hell, one can easily imagine the breezily hard-boiled narrative that would accompany this CD had it chosen to include such a dramatization. Not necessary, though, as every element is fully in place, from street-angelic backing choirs to dark side alleys to solos that flesh the inhabitants in vivid or ghostly raiment, a situation well underscored by the liner's cartoon artwork. Each new cut slips down a different avenue or sits gazing at the inky sky as the city swirls and eddies (Women in Neon) around the listener. Thus, it may well shock when you realize that, deep into the repertoire, you're listening to Coltrane's Impressions, this time with wah-wah guitar and a sliding elastic bass that glides handily through the midnight jungle of Moon Town…but it works beautifully, and becomes all of a piece inside the flowing narrative.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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