Sunday, Sept. 12, 2004
Aone-time member of the P-Funk family and session musician for artists as diverse as Prince and Primal Scream, Joseph Fiddler has, as a solo performer under the name Amp Fiddler, worked mostly in Europe in the so-called neo-soul mode. Following a smattering of EPs over the years, he released his first full-length album last spring. "Waltz of a Ghetto Fly" finds him in Maxwell/D'Angelo territory: easygoing but firm beats, slight and airy melodies, a lot of overdubbed backing vocals. Fiddler's voice is in the upper Stevie Wonder registers, and while his use of slurs and squeals seems more strategic than heartfelt, they never sound overplayed.
Perhaps because he's originally from Detroit, the birthplace of American techno, and his European record label encourages such things, he indulges more readily in electronica knob-twiddling than a lot of his peers do. Many of his cuts are laid out on a bed of funky morph and scatter in and around the compressed vocal line, eventually coalescing into full-out soul tunes. Fiddler demonstrates a gift for melody that seems built into a track's rhythmic momentum, but while it's easy to imagine folks dancing to this stuff, it seems ideally designed for headphone types who prefer kicking back and grooving in the chaise longe. This may explain why Fiddler isn't doing the dance-club circuit for his first Japan tour. It's funk for people who aren't in a rush.
Sept. 24 & 25, 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. each night, Blue Note Tokyo, Aoyama. 7,350 yen. For more information, call (03) 5485-0088.