By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
Tired of remix roulettes? Naked’s Carte Blanche Volumes 1 and 2keeps it simple and adventurous all at the same time. That’s ’cause the emphasis is more on exotic jazz delicately upstaged with breakbeats, funk and slithery four-to-the-floor. If the lazy beatnik funk of tracks like “Global Communication,” “Only Child,” “Molasses” and “Heartbeat” on Blanche Volume 1can’t ease your pain, child, nothin’ will. Mixed by Ybarra and Gabriel Rene of Aquanote, the set also features a nice barrage of sassy-ass movas like “Isolee,” “Soulmate” and the earthy, rapturous grooves of Aquanote’s “Only.” Ybarra’s and Rene’s Blanche Volume 2 swan-dives into jazz terrain with the light blaxploitation licks of “Flute Salad.” It’s a chillin’ fruit-smoothies session from here on out, featuring cuts like “Sunday 17th,” the horn rich “Flight,” the acid jazz love of “Soul Magic 98” and the luxuriant jet-set madness of Wai Wan’s “Goddess.”
If all this wasn’t enough, get ready for the January release of Jay Denes a.k.a. Blue Six’s first full-length drop, Beautiful Tomorrow. Egged on by NYC DJ/producer kingpin Francois Kevorkian to just shut the fuck up and quit whinin’ ’n’ moanin’ about the horrible state of today’s music, Denes humbly put together 14 Naked-ized tracks, including dub versions of “Pure,” “Grace” and “Music & Wine.” These are solid re-mixed versions of his previously released cuts, and the new tracks showcase the talents of Naked vocalists Lisa Shaw, Catherine Russell and Lysa. Some of the latter tunes seem bogged down in what has become the signature Naked sound, though. While Russell works well with the gentle backing of “Very Good Friends,” Shaw’s vocals are simply layered over more Naked fodder on “Let’s Do It Together,” and Russell suffers a similar fate on “Beautiful Tomorrow.”
With Shaw and Migs both set to release their own full-length projects on Naked in the spring, one can only hope that, unlike Denes, both artists have the intuition to musically surpass Naked’s long-established groove. While Beautiful Tomorrow is by no means a bad listening experience, it doesn’t much further the journey, either. And that’s what made Naked stand out in the first place.
Collectively, this music travels on the spiritual side of sensuality, elegant dance-music aesthetics and sophisticated rhythms for adults only. It’s like Prince says in his cut “Get Up”: “Letta woman be a woman and a man — be a man.” That’s right, keds, put down the Day-Glo and the X. Time to grow up, getta job and for heaven’s sake git Naked.