International Pony are new signings to Skint Records, who of course are home to Fatboy Slim. This is a different prospect though to everyone’s favourite DJ named Norman. The Pony, as they’ll no doubt soon be known, are three German DJs who specialise in lazy funk workouts with more than a debt to Daft Punk.
The oddly named threesome – DJ Koze, Cosmic DJ, and Erobique – have been together for about two years, spending their time remixing obscure dance acts and recording this, their debut album. It’s an ambitious affair, consisting of seventeen tracks that explore many musical genres. As the opening track Pony The Funk states – “No barriers, no frontiers, the next hour is all about music”.
Having said that, there’s no mining colliery brass band experimentation here. The overall mood is relaxed, soulful funk. Pony The Funk is a laidback five minutes with an over-reliance on the dreaded vocoder. It seems to have become obligatory for every act to put their vocals through the electronic mangler and to be frank, it’s wearing a bit thin by now.
Luckily, most of the music on here is strong enough to overcome this. Hangin’ Around ’02 is a wonderful slice of funk with sassy vocals from Stepchild. It sounds like it’s just stepped out of the ’70s and even gets away with lyrics such as “Honeys shake your rear like you have no fear/so if you’ve got clean underwear say oh yeah!”. It’s due to be released as a single in April, and is set to be the first great sound of the summer.
Not much else comes close to the high of Hangin’ Around ’02 but there are several highlights here, including the keyboard stabbing instrumental of Superyou, and the incredibly soulful voice of Austin Cole who features on two tracks. The languid Why Why Why in particular shows off Cole’s falsetto to outstanding effect.
As the general vibe is so relaxed and understated, the punky thrash of My Mouth comes as quite a shock. Despite its nonsense lyric (“my mouth feels like chewing gum/ride my pony once again”), it’s still as uplifting and addictive as the rest of the album.
There are a few flaws here – at an hour long it does tend to overstay its welcome, and they have a tendency to disappear up their own backsides, as A New Bassline For Jose proves. Overall though, this is a welcome addition to the growing band of funky dance acts fronted by DJs. This could well be the sound of choice at more discerning barbecues this summer.