Doctor L: The Great Depression
This may well be the most inaccurately titled LP of the year; there's a certain joy to the music, or in the music, which hits with the excellent psych-tinged afro-electronica of ‘Mystery Travels’, featuring the excellent Nairobi Descendants. Every track aside from two features guest vocalists; a smart move, because it enables the Doctor to take a back seat and keep the groove poetic whilst his stars give it everything at the centre of the piece.
Voodoo John amps it up on the jazz-funky ‘Your Bones’, complete with choir interjections and vocalisations. Martin Perna's tuneful appearance on ‘Activista’ is framed by brass stabs and an insistent breakbeat and ‘Empty & Round’ features Allonymous, rightly noting that “one word can change this world - I'd better pick out the right, right one” before settling down into a kick-back syncopated rhythm.
By now, it's obvious that this is 'serious' music; it's billed as political and poetic and that's not far from the truth. The guests keep chipping in - Asa, Kiala Nzavotunga, Unknown Poets and Antibalas on the reworked ‘Family Affair’, which here is the entirely-more claustrophobic ‘Family A Fear’. Tony Allen's appearance on the bloopy ‘By Surprise’ brings things into the abstract - not a bad place to be and under the spell of Doctor L, an extremely funky experience.