Napoleon Cherry – Walk Alone (Music from Memory, November 2015)

Elegant post-modern funk on Music From Memory this month, as it continues to respectfully assemble retrospectives of overlooked artists with the right sense of occasion. The Amsterdam label has a sophisticated nose, but it also has a knack for releasing border-music, records made within “scenes” but often too complex to have risen to the surface. This beautifully compiled anthology of Philadelphia-born Napoleon Cherry works from the late ’80s and early ’90s is a fine example of music that is knowing and overtly free.

Funk lovers will probably adore this record, but it has much wider appeal. The recordings on Walk Alone carry a kind of expert restraint, a held sexiness that is seductive but cerebral. Cherry’s intelligent funk intertwines here with American minimalism, illuminated disco and other searching synth traditions. It’s geometric funk, a kaleidoscope of clean shapes in bright colours: blues, emeralds, deep yellows. Highlights are the strangely timeless “When You Had the Chance” (first uncovered by PPU earlier this summer), the crazed confessional title-track “Walk Alone” and, personal favourite, “Believe it or Not”, a spooky piece of tropicana, ultra-bright and unsettlingly dark at the same time. Strange and impeccable.

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