Reviewed by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Brown Sugar Factory: Halina’t Sumayaw EP

Reviewed by Jemilah Ross-Hayes

Brown Sugar Factory: Halina’t Sumayaw EP

Brown Sugar Factory are a fun funk fusion act from Tāmaki Makaurau, and while new to the scene, they sure are sweet. 

The creative child of singer-songwriter Roberto Jatulan (The Rubics) and DJ/producer Reid Ulberg performs with a band composed of an eclectic mix of evidently adept musicians. 

Combining genres into a disco, funk and psychedelic world-infused sound, their debut EP ‘Halina’t Sumayaw’ will undoubtedly encourage toes to tap and hips to sway.

Opening proceedings with an atmosphere of stepping out of heavy summer rain into a welcoming nightclub Till Next Saturday is ‘Shake it baby if you feel my groove, you know I like it when you make that move’, sung by Phoebe Walsh (Kazia) and Roberto Jatulan in harmony. Vocal leads swap cleverly with a jazzy guitar interlude allowing Phoebe to come in fresh with a soulful house verse before the track winds to its neat conclusion. 

Similarly atmospheric, Harana Sosa, kicks off with a catchy bass line by Michael Anderson (The Vibes) and maintains the dance floor momentum at an infectious 120 bpm. The vocals here are led by Roberto with a fabulous sax interlude courtesy of Thabani Gapara. Gang vocals make the repeated chorus lyrics harder to distinguish until the deliberate vocal hook “hallo, hallo” comes in, but it feels like it’d be just fine if the song went on forever like this. 

Funkfessions Pt.1 is precisely delicious, again with a smooth blend of male/female vocal lines leading from a slow arm-waving intro into a bouncy groove. Things get pared back for another slower-paced saxophone bridge section before the earworm bassline and floaty vocals kick back in. Roll It and Paraiso complete the rest of the EP with similar amounts of sweet summer sweat, but less continuity as more ideas get thrown in to both tracks, the rock guitar solo by Mitchell Goodfellow (Big Tasty) of mostly-instrumental Paraiso for example.

It does feel a little bit like the songs have no end in sight. None of the tracks push past four minutes, but the house influence gives the illusion of a five to six-minute workout, the upbeat nature of the earlier tracks, in particular, encouraging endless danceability. Played live, these songs have a whole other level of energetic charm.

“Halina’t sumayaw” is Filipino for “come dance” which summarises the entire essence of this album perfectly. Every song holds a rhythm that would have people dancing until the late am.