Some Water and Sun: All My Friends Have to Go

Astute listeners may hear echoes of We All Have a Plan, last year's stellar outing by Slicker (John Hughes III), while listening to All My Friends Have To Go, and that's perfectly reasonable, given that Some Water and Sun is Hughes' latest project, specifically a duo outing borne from two months of Chicago sessions with Japanese artist Shin Tasaki (Spanova). Though both albums are rooted in hip-hop and funk, the new album more strongly embraces a bionic stutter-funk style sweetened by the subtle incorporation of judicious samples, horn and flute accents, and the dense crackle of old vinyl—imagine Slicker's sound more strongly infused by Prefuse 73, Farben, and Dabrye and you'll have some idea of the aural gumbo Hughes and Tasaki craft throughout (soft harmonizing in “The Rain” also recalls the sensuous vocal style of Savath & Savalas). While the eclecticism of We All Have A Plan was bolstered by a large assortment of guests, All My Friends Have To Go restricts its guest list to vocalists Lindsay Anderson (L'altra) and Yukie.

With his gentle voice floating over a bubbling dew-dropped base (purposefully crafted to simulate precipitation), Tasaki declares the duo's creative intent (“Watering along until your little flower comes along/Gonna water ‘til we go out tonight”) before the duo plunges the listener into the clipped funk and tight programming of “Snowbreaker,” the exotic feel escalating with Tasaki reverting to a Japanese-English mixture that's remarkably funky when conjoined to the song's jerky rhythms; though on paper lines like “Yukidoke-no sukoshi mae-no miracle” and “Fui-ni saite saite marude musu-no iki-na fireworks” appear an awkward mouthful, they roll off his tongue with fluid ease. Other songs feature vocals from Hughes and Tasaki: in the syncopated duet “Some Water and Sun,” their smooth blend snakes through a swinging funk setting, while the title track finds them pairing up for rapid-fire rapping alongside the bleat of a Milesian wah-wah trumpet and a rambunctious funk base. The soulful burner “See You Next Spring” riffs on the language barrier crossed by the collaborators with vocal call-and-response between the two. Other highlights include the jazz-fusion guitar break and Yukie's cooing vocal presence in “Blossom,” the distinctive touch flute playing brings to the mechano-funk rhythms of “Gloomy Town,” and “A Oh,” which eschews lyrics for the breathily intoned mantra of its title and a labyrinthine musical counterpart. All My Friends Have To Go shows two radically contrasting voices pooling their talents to produce original work that transcends language barriers and bridges cultural divides. A remarkably sensuous album, strengthened by the collaborators' keen eye for micro-detail and texture.

August 2005