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ONEoverZERO | Live at Nectars

album review by John Powell

ONEoverZERO | Live at Nectars

One of the most impressive aspects of the Burlington, VT music scene is the diversity and quality of its local acts. ONEoverZERO also recorded this live album at the legendary Nectar’s. Mixed by ONEoverZERO guitarist Dan Murphy and Sam Johnson, the album has a loose and open sound to it- not too shifty and also not glossy. Especially with groups that integrate rapping- live vocals can get muffled. Not here. In 2012, deep into the new millennium and on the cusp of an election, ONEoverZERO’s politically-charged brand of hip hop, funk, and tidbits of reggae and jazz, comes off as seamless. This album is as good a place as any to start enjoying this conscious group.

“Diasakka/Conquerant” starts us off at Nectar’s on the early spring evening when this was recorded. Muted guitar and soft drums, low chanting, and an almost desert blues vibe. The coolest additions to a group like this are Agent 8’s turntables. The scratching is not overdone, and acts as a good transitional tool between grooves. The second half of this opening track dives into deep hip hop meditation, including flute- provided by Bob Brokkens.

Key tracks include “Be Free”, with near-Blues Traveler instrumentation and loose raps, old school in rhythm and content. It’s a fun track that in the live setting has just enough fuzz to be endearing. The chorus is catchy, especially, “When they say ‘slavery’/ say you’d rather die.” This group never apologizes for its political opinions, and has revolution tattooed into each verse.

Immediately following is “We Do Not Agree”, a charged punch of anti-establishment. ONEoverZERO has essence of Roots of Creation, parts of Rage Against the Machine, and passion for all old school hip hop, all tweaked to be funky.

Therefore, what you have is an equation for a killer live band. I can only imagine this show being fun to watch, with enough variety of instruments, guest stars, and everything from ballads (“Sally”) to neo-funk (“Fill My Cup”).

It is a live album- so those weary of sound quality and the musicians chiming in between songs, cracking jokes… If that’s not your thing then you’re not going to like this album, but it’s awesome party music and it’s fun to learn all the words.

Bottom line: Not many bands spend time on quality live recording anymore. ONEoverZERO’s hip hop, funk, heavy music is conscious and fun in the live setting.


 

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