Surprise Chef are from Melbourne and play funky soul with some nods to jazz. It’s the kind of music you might find in a Tarantino movie, quirky but sharp, and with a real groove. But it usually makes us think of reggae dub plates, those sparse tracks made for other people to add sounds.
Surprise Chef play instrumentals, but less is definitely more – reading interviews they went to jazz school, so can all play to a high standard but choose to be a band rather than instrumentalists showing off.
The opener is A1 Bakery Pledge of Allegiance, one of the more soulful tunes, with 70s drums and bass, and tinkly splashes of piano, very much like a song with the vocals removed, with a nice Isley Bros-style guitar break in the middle.
Grinners Circle is funkier, with creaky guitar and something of the retro sound of label mates El Michels Affair (an American “cinematic soul” group led by Leon Michels). Strings give it a film soundtrack feel in places; next song Velodrome, on the other hand, has a prominent retro synth that could be drawn from a 70s cop show (and on The Streets of San Francisco tonight…). Suburban Breeze brings the percussion to the fore (including a triangle).
Possibly better as a live show, but one for fans of cool soul / funk.
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