At first glance, the hip-hop ‘riot-jazz’ ensemble Youngblood look like a bit of a mess: three drummers sharing out bits of exploded drum kit, a white rapper who fizzes with so much unhinged energy that he might have just downed a kilo of Sherbet Dip-Dabs backstage, a weary bunch of horn players that look like they’ve rolled out of the chicken shop on the corner of your road. But this is all a cunning illusion: as soon as the first tune fires up, all sweaty, euphoric hell breaks loose.
From the pelvic funk-thrust of ‘Brooklyn’ to the blissful, ballsy cover of Jackson’s ‘Human Nature’, the sound they produce is holy aural joy. If God had a brass band, to serenade newcomers at St Peter’s pearly gates, it would sound like Youngblood. Their blastingly explosive cover of ‘Killing Me Softly’ makes Roberta Flack look like a real square. Such is the contagious energy of their glorious arrangements that the audience cheerfully renounce all dignity: in ‘Nuclear Summer’, frontman David Henzie-Skogen has us all clapping in rounds, like dementedly happy seals. At one point during this, the guy next to me gets his ring caught in his mate’s skirt; she responds by lifting it right up over her head and honking like a mad donkey. And just when it seems things can’t get any better, Youngblood unleashes their majestic secret funk weapon: the sousaphone solo. The sight of the sousaphone player alone is enough to make you love him. Imagine a man whose head has been replaced by a gargantuan gramophone. And then imagine the sound: like a brassy octopus, gurgling and parping his way through a steaming bassline, spotted with virtuosic multiphonics and scratching.
Pax Volumi is the first album Youngblood have made that captures the wild euphoria of their live performance. Fight tooth and nail for a copy.