Nils Landgren Funk Unit | Funk is my Religion Review
by Stamish Malcuss
Nils Landgren started up his Funk Unit back in 1994, and after seventeen years, ten albums, and several hundreds of concerts, the Swedish funk band is still fired up to take their music anywhere. The ensemble’s latest project is the album titled Funk is my Religion. The album is fifteen tracks bubbling with energy, groove, and elation. The band’s deliciously easy and laid-back vibe gets straight through to audiences. A new chapter for the Nils Landgren Funk Unit is only just beginning with the crispness of their funk rhythms, blazing brass, cool vocals, and persuasive melodies. “Originally, we wanted to record at Palma Studios in Mallorca, but Corona put a stop to that,” Nils Landgren explains. “Then we decided we’d record at “Redhorn District” in Bad Meinberg, but nothing was working in Germany either. So what should we do? Give up? The Funk Unit? No chance! I asked my friend Björn Yttling if we could go to his Ingrid Studio in Stockholm, and he said, ‘No problem.’ A few days before the session, the Swedish authorities decided that no more than eight people could assemble indoors at once. So, with the six of us plus just one sound engineer, we managed to stay under the limit.” The ensemble is Landgren, trombone & vocals, Magnum Coltrane Price on bass, Jonas Wall on tenor saxophone, Andy Pfeiler on guitar, Petter Bergander on keyboards, and Robert Ikiz on drums. The album has numbers composed by Price, Pfeiler, and Wall.
“Amanda” is a medium groove deep with soul and the laid-back in-the-pocket approach of the ensemble. The melody is flowing as Funk Unit expresses the form. Each section has melodic gems that unify the piece and groove. The irresistible rhythmic drive of the ensemble is definitely the success and reason why they are at the center of the funk-jazz genre.
“Play Funk” builds upon a James Bronwish groove with Landgren singing the poppin’ melody. The music is grounded in soul, rhythm and blues, and jazz, including the instruments and vocals. The horns add punches and colors as the drums, bass, and guitar keeps the groove constant and moving forward. The horn chorus shows how well-oiled their articulations and phrasing are congealed.
Funk is my Religion delivers a classic, gospely syncopated funk experience that will get people singing and movin’ along to their groove. Funk is my Religion is an exciting project built on great basslines, slick and energetic horn lines, and a nice mix of instrumentals and vocals.