Smaack, Craackle, Pop n’ Lock
It’s refreshing, to say the least, to hear a talented dance group that isn’t A. French, B. a duo, or C. restrained to house beats. The production trio Kraak & Smaak, hailing from the Netherlands, come hard and groovy with their 2008 release, Plastic People.
The record kicks off with “Bobby & Whitney,” “Squeeze Me,” and “Plastic People.” These three tracks are the embodiment of the trio’s sound: funk-over-soul-over-more-funk. “Squeeze Me,” a sort of nod to fellow DJ Fatboy Slim, takes sampled Amen break goodness and comes together as what could’ve otherwise been Jamiroquai circa 2008.
“Man of Constant Sorrow” emphasizes Kraak & Smaak’s innovation as DJs. It samples the famous country ditty that George Clooney gave a whirl in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” over dubstep drums. Some Middle Eastern vibes are thrown into the mix and voila, a completely schizophrenic, but oddly infectious and soothing combination results.
“Cornered,” “California Roll,” and “Thinking Back” are a sort of chilled trip-hop answer to the more active tracks. They show the trio’s attention to texture and dynamics. However, by the time the record hits these tracks, the listener begins to see that all the funky, groovy, dance-able movers and shakers with big arrangements and catchy vocals are long gone. Why push the three fun tracks to the top of the record and leave the listeners wondering if there are any more single-worthy dance hits left? Not that the rest of the tracks are filler, but Kraak & Smaak had a good thing going with all the Jamiroquai happening.
Plastic People is definitely a solid and eclectic producers’ album, but with tracks like “Bobby & Whitney” and “Squeeze Me,” it has potential to blow up in clubs all over that place. Maybe it’s track placement, but Kraak & Smaak need a lesson in building and maintaining momentum while keeping their obvious production talents at the forefront.