Watching the Detroit Grand Pubahs perform live in Spain at Robert Hood’s launch of his Omega album was quite a spectacle. The mask wearing performers broke out the live saxophone for a sound sensation – rarely do electronic music and sax go together, let alone in a live show, but that’s exactly what the Detriot Grand Pubahs revel in doing – the least expected. Hence their fourth album Madd Circus is exactly that: a crazy show featuring all manner of genres mashed together and presented in their most entertaining form.
The Detroit Grand Pubahs are electronic funk-master Paris The Black Fu and his side-kick, Mr.O. Originally founded in Detroit in 1998, the Pubahs like nothing more than to bring a touch of the funkadelic to what can be a rather stale techno scene. Hence the demands to dance when performing live and the sight of a saxophone melding with the beats. They love to fire up their sound with the unexpected, and on this fourth album they keep the mood light-hearted but are deadly serious about producing fine music with personality. Here’s they invite us into the circus with Clown Mobile Logged In introducing the fun and games.
There’s never a dull moment in this big top of techno
Opener “Autotragik” is 1980s Germany meets the American underground as Kraftwerk-inspired robotic vocals reverberate over an electro-pop backing. “I Didn’t Want to Party” is a sultry spoken-word number while “White Pigeon” harks back to the 1980s again with a Human League tinge. Skit “No Hoes in My Stereo has to be listened to with a smirk, then Paris and Mr. O get the circus properly underway with the downright dirty bass on “Zombies Playing Dead” with a whimsical synth crawling through the tune in what would be the perfect soundtrack to a sinister clown show. Locked into more hypnotic beats by the end, “Much Better” offers a brooding slab of 4/4 followed by the equally beefy “Mysterious Sights” and Numb Deaf & Dumb” which make for a show-stopping sequence.
After the dreamy piano of “Jealous of a Dead Man”, the duo take it slow and easy thanks to Barry White vocals calling for “Breakfast in Bed”, get funked up with “Mashed Potato” and concentrate on the vocals before rounding off with the drum & bass of “Madd Circus”, a title track that unleashes their wild site. As Paris states, “this album is a journey into the booty electro and pop contempo – almost funk but not quite so.” The Pubahs have pushed their sound in all kinds of directions for this album and are richer for it, there’s never a dull moment in this big top of techno.
Purchases of a CD copy of Madd Circus could see you making a cameo appearance in the next Detroit Grand Pubah’s music video and more. Hidden inside the cases are one golden ticket and two silver tickets in true Willy Wonka style. You might even win dinner with Mr. O and The Black Fu!