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Think of all the images conjured by the term “bin juice”… Now banish them from your mind. Luckily, the Sydney five piece named for this unsavoury fact of life have nothing to with rats, hepatitis or that unrecognisable thing you found in the back of the fridge, which is now seeping through the garbage bag. And the “funk” emanating from Bin Juice (the band) has more to do with saxophones and licks to make James Brown proud than any filthy miasma.
With all the Stars Wars and science references, nods to James Brown and Iggy Pop, and intelligent songwriting you could ever want, Bin Juice are the band you are looking for.
Describing themselves as “flow bone funk”, Bin Juice were originally a high school band skiving off chapel service to practice. Welcoming saxophonist Jenifer Garner into the fold a few years later, Bin Juice began writing in earnest for their debut LP Furious George. Now embarking on a series of planned EPs, the first of which is set for release on November 16. Titled Episode IV, according to the band the series of six will follow “The (original) Star Wars pattern” (in case you don’t know your Jedi from your Jabba, the running order begins IV to VI, then moving back to I, II and III).
Written and recorded in drummer Jacques Lategan’s home studio over the last few months, Episode IV afforded Bin Juice their first opportunity to really get their teeth into recording; “It’s the usual story of home vs. professional studio: when time / money is less of a consideration you can experiment a lot more with sounds and parts. Having unlimited studio time was a new thing for us.” And from the sounds of things Episode IV hasn’t suffered from the DIY approach.
In fact, quite the opposite. The band released a sneak preview of their inaugural EP with the irresistible Bubblegum Warrior. Picking up the pace from previous material with a genre-defying mix of funk, trip-hop and straight up rock, the track opens around a real earworm sax lick. Along with syncopated beats and true funk basslines, the intro has something of early Incubus about it. But I’m talking really early (showing my age) Fungus Amungus, or Nebula anyone?
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And in a similar vein to Incubus’ early psychotropic stylings, I asked Bin Juice the significance of a “Bubblegum Warrior”. Not only imbued with musical talent, at least one member of the band is also clearly well versed in niche anthropology; “The history of the Alopecian (‘Bubblegum’) Warriors is not particularly well documented. What little there is known about them is derived from glyphs on fragments of clothing which yet survive, or is known only as an oral history. They can often be found in Eastern abodes, protected from chemical and wet by comprehensive shoulder-borne shields.” So that answers that question.
Followed by the release of the second single 3AM, which dropped this week, it’s similarly tripped out but with a heavy pace that really does feel like the spaced out effort of the world during the small hours. Looming riffs and monotone spoken word top the lagging rhythm, while the sax sails over lazily, with a much more apparent jazz influence. There is still a slightly frenetic feel despite the pace, clever instrumentation keeps the track alive – even in it’s tired, “high as hell” feel.
Cited musical influences like James Brown and Kamasi Washington are fairly apparent in the inescapable funk tinge of the saxophone. But stepping outside of the formula, Bin Juice have backed up the groove with muted yet hefty electric guitars. Fuzzed out and distorted on Bubblegum Warrior, with a hectic solo morphing out of the same jazzy theme – it’s like James Brown and Iggy Pop decided to battle, with a tripped out Baz Luhrmann from 1999 as MC, and culminating in a stage invasion from the Stooges. It’s an awesome image, and also an impressive feat to manage to convey that all in one song.
As the Venn Diagram of musical genres and trends becomes ever more undecipherable – by this point it’s looking like the most impressive spirograph you never managed to draw – Bin Juice are sitting pretty across any number of influences. But, somehow melding them into something completely their own, these latest tracks promise great things from Bin Juice and Episode IV. This is the band you are looking for, the Force is strong with this one.
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