On the back of Bush Food, I think it’s fair to say that Zenon have forged such a strong sound for themselves over the last few years that they’ve become very good indeed at sounding like themselves. It’s an awkward album, with a incredible moments balanced out by dud moments.
Tetrameth’s Grinder Reminder has a typically expansive vibe that gets marred by samples that don’t so much enhance the track as get in the way of it: just when you feel yourself getting drawn deeply into the music, a sample comes along and distracts what was happening. Conversely, Sun Control Species’ Coma Roamer is a belter – sparse, fluid and dreamy, and happily without the distractions and blockages of the opener.
One Tasty Morsel’s Renegasm is deep and magnetic, if a little uninvolved; best move on to Sensient’s Loose Fingers, which is wonderful. Messier than you might expect, and yet more paranoid than the stuff on Anti-Fluoro, it escalates with two simultaneous vibes: on the one hand it’s mechanical and grinding, on the other it’s fluidly organic. Consider for a moment the significance in achieving that… no wonder Sensient is so widely-respected worldwide, and if you ask me he’s not even at the top of his game yet.
Autonomech’s Minimonstas is superlatively magnetic. This is one of those tracks that I can imagine playing while the dancefloor suddenly gets bigger as people passing get sucked in, and we all wobble backwards slightly for a lazy, funky li’l boogie. Above and beyond this, Minimonstas is one of those tracks that you kno captures something. Shadow FX doesn’t quite live up to the energy and wonder of his recent album with Session On. The groove is there, and the depth is there, but somehow the track doesn’t believe in itself enough to make it a true winner.
More challenging is Tristan Boyle’s Neshika Bavakasha. I don’t think I’ve heard anything quite like this before – it sounds almost as though Mr Boyle created a sort of rabbit hutch for sounds, left them overnight to do their thing within the framework he defined, then he came back in the morning to document what happened. This isn’t to say that it’s directionless or random – in fact, the way that this apparent mishmash becomes structured and layered is its strength.
Next Up Decoy, who I just can’t seem to get on with. I know I’m missing something here, everyone else seems to love them but…. they just don’t float my paraglider. Crop Circles sounds staid and unloved for the first two thirds, then things disappear and a lush melody comes out to warm things up, before disappearing again. Sorry everyone, I don’t get it. As I’ve said before, Decoy will one day produce something amazing; but this won’t be until they actually try, rather than coasting along as they’ve been doing thus far.
Finally, Spoonbill comes in with the obligatory downtempo closing track Wash Cycle. Good producer, pretty nice track, sounds a bit like something Violet Vision might do, albeit with an addictive Spoonbill hybrid of lo-fi and sky-hi-fi. Like every other downtempo track on a 4-4 CD, it’s forgettable.
At the end of the day, this is music that comes alive when it’s on a big (and I mean really big) sound system. To translate well to the living room, car, bedroom, toilet (wherever you do your listening) it has to have something that functions well on all levels. And as much as it saddens me to say it, the majority of Bush Food simply does not.