Lately I’ve been listening a lot to Damn!‘s fourth album, Let’s Zoom In, that was released last year. Damn! is an unfortunately namned soul/funk octet from Malmö in southern Sweden, mostly known as a backing band for rapper Timbuktu. Excellent stuff, among the best music the country has to offer! Though the album’s main single played in the live clip above is a shouting-blues type of thing, most of it is dominated by ultra-smooth Curtis Mayfield style falsetto singing. And there’s a lot of kraftwerkesque vocoder on it too.
As I explained to my wife yesterday, a vocoder is a beautiful thing when it’s used to make people sound like robots. This is not the same as the ugly digital re-pitching that is so common in current mass-market R’n'B. A typical example can be heard on the male part of the gratuitous duet version of Beyoncé’s lovely “If I Were A Boy”. A vocoder turns you into a robot. If you can’t sing in tune or if you have an insufficient reach, then the vocoder won’t help.