Electric Kif are a Miami-based power quartet that explore the boundaries between rock, jazz fusion and electronic drum & bass. I first got introduced to them at the at the first GroundUP Music Festival hosted in Miami Beach by Snarky Puppy in 2017. Since then they’ve become a staple of the festival hosting pre-shows each year and have welcomed an array of guests from the Snarky Puppy camp among others.
The band formed as an outlet for the musicians to stretch out and be themselves between recording sessions and touring with other artists. They started played monthly at a tiny place called Lagniappe, which became their home-base in Miami. These nights became the time when the band would dive in to their own musicality, and chemistry was undeniable. The quartet clicked and there was no stopping them.
By 2017 the guys decided to shift gears a bit, and commit to Electric Kif as their primary project. They started touring out of South Florida, and the Electric Kif national journey began. They developed new music, videos, and performed in every new market that welcomed them. On the road they were exposed to so many other sounds and experiences which brought about great inspiration. For me, they were listed as one of my top highlights of 2019 seeing them perform at the Suwannee Rising and Hulaween festivals in Live Oak Florida.
Around that time, they they wrote and recorded their next record Jefe which is a standout record. The year 2020 kicked off with some amazing live moments including a great set in February 2020 at Aisle 5 in Atlanta right before the pandemic.
As the touring world stopped….the band embraced this pause and used the time to create and record this record, “Dreamlike.” It’s a fantastic progression for the band transcending any particular genre and combining elements of funk, fusion, jazz, prog rock, electronic and trance among others. That is to say, there’s something here for everyone and if you listen closely you can’t help but be drawn in to that Dreamlike world. Here’s the track list and rundown –
Sonar segues from a quick drum intro into a full throttle low end groove. Digo on bass sounds almost like a growling bear while Jason on keys plays a soothing synth layer. Armando bounces on drums and Eric’s guitar plays a haunting melody in sync with the synth. Digo’s ultra funky solo midway yields back to the main theme and Eric takes a quick sonic trip before a group transitions to a dark, more ominous fade.
Marrakush starts with Jason setting the base before the full band comes in more another Kif trip. The tune has a clear fusion ‘kush’ feel. The closest analogue that I know of for EK is Weather Report, who I know is a big influence of the band. The bridge has a fine Digo solo. Eric and Jason alternate in the lead role and this is an exemplary tune showcasing the tightness of this quartet.
Dreamlike (featuring Aaron Parks) kicks off with a sound of like an approaching helicopter with of course a “dreamlike” synth as well. When the main theme kicks in around the 1:30 mark, it’s so out there, you can’t help but move to the groove. The video of course is pure fantasy, lifelike but with clues that its in the subconscious. Aaron Parks has a great extended lead in the second half before we awaken. The only thing real about this is the great title track.
F.M.B. has Jason opening with a string synth sound and Eric playing a bossa nova tune. Does FMB mean “Fusion or perhaps Future Meets Bossa”? I don’t know but that’s my guess. This is a more traditional tune than some of the others but I definitely dig the groove. Jason takes a synth lead throughout the body which seamlessly blends the two genres. Eric takes the next lead and then the pace picks up a bit with Armando and Digo dropping some great rhythm bombs on us segueing back to Eric with a psychedelic solo. The band drops back to bossa for the close.
Boo Boo has a scratchy quick intro, with a warped synth trance beginning. After the opening section, there’s some undulating waves back and forth between channels with the rhythm thumping dead center. There’s some garbled voice midway with some super fast fusion drumming from Armando and accompanying full metal thrashing. The main theme returns with some space radio frequency programming interjected for a great listen right to the fade.
Language of the Unheard has a nice guitar-synth combo opening before Armando comes in strong with kick drum. It’s hard to describe the ‘Kif Effect’ but there is a terrific piano section with some voices chanting far in the background – the voices of the “Unheard”? Two-thirds through the dynamic changes into a tornado swirl that abruptly segues back to the main theme with interspersed chants. This tune really is special and is best listened to under the influence of some great headphones.
Anthem is bright right from the start with a some hymn like synth. It quickly transitions into a synth-reggae feel with Eric playing a terrific, epic sounding lead. The break is back to a futuristic reggae theme. Armando and Digo combine for some super deep funk with Jason and Eric taking us on another orbit. Jason has us settle down for the ending with a church-like close.
Insomnia (featuring Chris Bullock) is a badass funky song that starts with a very chill synth opening but quickly morphs into a sick bass and drum rhythm that, for me, mimics the Ferris Bueller song ‘Oh Yeah.’ Chris Bullock of Snarky Puppy fame, takes a brief early solo and that DnB comes back hard with more Bullock bouncing back and forth. Each break, the rhythm seems to come back stronger and Bullock continues to meander around in the background. By the time the song cuts off I can’t go to sleep ’cause I love it.
- Eric Escanes – Guitar, 12 String, Sampler
- Armando Lopez – Drums, Percussion, Cooking sheet
- Jason Matthews – Keys, Prophet, synth pads
- Rodrigo Zambrano – Fretless Bass, Korg Minilogue intro, Moog Bass, Lighter
- Brian Potts – Crash
- Aaron Parks – Keyboard solo on Dreamlike
- Chris Bullock – Saxophone on Insomnia