You are in one of two parties when it comes to to new THE ROOTS CD, 'UNDUN'. You love THE ROOTS and know that on every album of their thirteen they have made, you are in for a treat. Alternatively, you are thinking, “Hey, those guys look heaps like that band on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’”, or “I remember that band, they did the music for the clips of ‘History of Rap’ with Justin Timberlake that have been making the rounds on YouTube, they are AWESOME!!”.
You are right. They are awesome. You won't be judged for being a little late to seek membership, welcome to the club. Regardless of being a long-time fan or a bit of a noob, UNDUN is one of the most important albums of 2011. UNDUN marks THE ROOTS first concept album. A band known for constantly pushing the creative envelope, this is their thirteenth album and their first foray into a tricky area of music that can see artistic genius credibility granted by the glowing reviews or, alternatively plummet into the world of ‘self-indulgent’ disaster albums. Unsurprisingly, UNDUN is a deep, emotional and visceral journey into the world of made up protagonist Redford Stephens and THE ROOTS are first class artists of Hip Hop every step of the way.
The sound is definitely more orchestral that the standard Roots CD, one track features prolific electronic indie folk artist Sufjan Stevens, which only adds to the cinematic like narrative that plays out over the course of the album. As hard as it is to break it down into words, this album is a tale of Redford Stevens (1974-1999), a disoriented soul doing some heavy reflecting on his life. While he apparently is not a real person according to the band, he is inspired by the members, their friends and family. Told out in a reverse story arc, THE ROOTS tell this story in 10 songs, in under 44 minutes.
True to form, THE ROOTS have sewn together another superb patch to their collective quilt of musical excellence. An album that is orchestrally precise, instrumentally seamless and in sync, lyrically poetic and powerful; UNDUN is guaranteed to consume you with the unique ROOTS blend of cool, while they quietly go about kicking goals in a whole new form.