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Snarky Puppy - Culcha Vulcha / relix review

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In an era where pristine live recordings are frequently included with the price of admission to a show, it's all the more impressive that Snarky Puppy has managed to earn a pair of Grammys for recordings made in front of an audience, a habit they've maintained for eight years. Now though, close on the heels of their latest Family Dinner installment, they've decided to drop a proper studio album. The biggest difference is the lack of applause between the tracks, as Culcha Vulcha otherwise demonstrates that the multitude of players in the Puppy family can deliver excellence no matter how many people are watching. And the compositions display a similar level of precision to their live counterparts, albeit with more reverb and stereo panning. There are some nice moments where the band really takes advantage of the benefits inherent to working in a dedicated recording environment-in particular, the double-drumming of Robert "Sput" Searight and Larnell Lewis on Justin Stanton's tune "Gemini"-but apart from that, the album largely relies on the same tropes that have driven all their previous efforts. (There's New Orleans-style funk, an Afrobeat-tinged tune and the requisite epic Cory Henry synth solo.) For better or worse, as always, no matter the environment, Snarky Puppy sounds like Snarky Puppy.