Kraak And Smaak
Breaks in the States will never be the same after leading Dutch trio, Kraak & Smaak, bring their massively musical debut full-length stateside. Oscar de Jong, Mark Kneppers and Wim Plug's much-lauded work, Boogie Angst, has already garnered praised from Pete Tong, Laurent Garnier, Annie Nightingale and so many more. Look for its U.S. release on Quango to include a kick-ass bonus disc of never-before-released remixes.
As a fearless threesome, Kraak & Smaak dose their funked-up breaks and soul jumping grooves (as the name implies) with everything from '70s rare groove ("Keep on Searching") to '80s references heard on the addictive single "Money in the Bag." Obsessive late-night flirtations with Blue Note jazz sounds and ferocious '70s guitar licks ensue to mark their signature breaks sound.
Boogie Angst kicks off with the hooky twang of "Money in the Bag" then moves into "One of These Days," a tune that pours honeyed vocals over looped guitars, spiraling trumpets and brass stabs. The balmy summer house sounds of "Keep Me Home" bounds through dusty woodwind and glimmering strings. "Danse Macabre" is a tripping, downbeat track with hauntingly soft vocals, while "5 to 4" takes on an epic Blade Runner style with stark mutated echoes and Middle Eastern pipes. "Mambo Solitario" elegantly curls strings around shuffling samba. And on and on it goes...
Twenty-eight-year-old Oscar De Jong, the main knob twiddler in Kraak & Smaak, formed the group in 2003 after a series of chance meetings with the other two. From his exposure to endless types of music as a student at the Music Conservatory in Rotterdam, he now cites his influences as jazz, hip-hop, funk, breakbeat and "all experimental music." It's something the other two relate to and have used to help create the musical synergy and energy-charged live shows that have been winning European audiences over ever since.
Contrary to how it might seem, Kraak & Smaak didn't start off to record an album. First came a series of successful EPs, released on London breaks label, Jalapeno Records (Money in the Bag, Keep on Searching, Say Yeah, Set Fire To The Disco). Then it became clear that an album was surly in the mix after numerous studio tracks materialized in late night sessions fueled by "a good variety of alcohol."
Prior to joining Kraak & Smaak , DJ Wim Plug and Mark Knepper (a.k.a. DJ Knuppelhout) knew each other from spinning out at a lot of the same venues in Holland. Plug had traversed all over the country on the decks next to Portishead's Andy Smith and drum 'n' bass stalwart DJ Aphrodite, among others. He was also a member of the multi-media turntable orchestra, Polyvinyl Big Band. As DJ Knuppelhout, Mark had released a mix CD (breaks) for legendary Dutch label Fresh Fruit and was a member of the popular '70s-'80s retro-act, Wipneus & Pim. "I keep it totally separate from what I do with Kraak & Smaak," he explains. "Although we did drop a drum 'n' bass remix of one of our chart hits recently. That was quite funny!" In DJ sets, Mark tends to play lots of funky breakbeat and "music for the ladies..." He also owns one of the biggest independent record shops in Leiden. "I suppose Plug and I were drawn to each other because of our total obsession with music." Now the two boast that collectively they own the largest vinyl collection in Holland.
In other words, there isn't much "musically" that escapes the radar of Kraak & Smaak." Even though Boogie Angst shies away from the usual genre definitions of "eclectic" and "lounge" -terms Oscar, Mark and Wim vehemently defy - the album "fits everywhere." Adds Plug, "We like to think of it as dance music to listen to."