Funk? Crunk? Laughstep? Disco? Takingthepissco? All this and more can be found on this solidly excellent yet also baffling album from Australia’s Morning Monster Records. Pitching itself somewhere between psytrance bacon mis-shapes and Loopus’ cousin, Picture This is a delightful pissabout set to music and while psyreviews often speaks of music putting one in the state of mind of “a beer in one hand and another beer in the other”, this transports you to a marginally pre-horizontal state of mind that smells strongly of tequila.
The Prowler opens with a simple melodic hook, before guest MC Hugo drops what I believe are colloqually known as ‘rhymes’ (incidentally, does ‘dropping science’ mean refining your high school subjects to concentrate on humanities? I was never fresh enough to fully understand.) Hugo’s presence is a great opener, you know you’re in for something very different. It’s also a quite unique bit of hiphop that is both (a) Australian and (b) Not Shit.
Snare House harks me back to Snake Thing, particularly in the hi-hats which seem to never sit still. This is a recurrent theme on Picture This; there seems to be an inordinate amount of movement at the top end, as though the tracks are following some sort of cosmic percussive algorithm. The jazzy stabs and runs here — and indeed on Kanga In Franga — are where you’re either going to love or loathe this. I can bring it back to Loopus, but only to a certain degree: while there are similarities, Rhythmik’s tinkering and tinkling takes more of a centrestage, as opposed to the Loopy one treating jazzy flecks as additional microsounds in the psychedelic mix.
Sun Tribe is where things really kick off properly. Analogue tubfarts swing below a riff that sounds like it was once an accordia, high end grinmakers keep the energy intact, before everything dissolves into something deeply, deeply psychedelic. This isn’t trance, it isn’t progressive, it isn’t funk, it isn’t anything. The best I can do to describe it is “disco-ciative” (disco + dissociative) but that’s a shit word and it’ll never catch on. The bliss of the midsection is snuffed for me by an overtly tinkling piano line, but your mileage may vary.
The ‘psychedelic western’ theme has been tackled before, but Everything does it with added shuffle and if cowboys know how to do anything, it’s shuffle. Once again the hihats are going ballistic here, and by-n0w-familiar acid flecks are holding things together neatly. Halfway through it shifts to breaks, and things get borderline dubstep, insanely enjoyable, and rather exciting.
This is what I love about this album — it’s brave, it’s new, it’s doing its thing. In a time where the majority of shit that gets released is one half formulaic and one half sterile, Picture This is wonderfully confronting.
Eat Me is less track than joke, like a sonic whoopee cushion. It slows down to a virtual disintegration, but a disintegration that’ll still keep you dancing. Meanwhile, Whistler is the moody one — a Vangelis-humping uber-literate guest at a dinner party whose main purpose in life is to lead into…
Polar Bear. Utterly fucking fantastic, best track on here, worth buying the album for this alone, etc. Start to finish this is perfect electronic music — the sort of track that you only get to hear once every blue moon. I can’t actually remember when I heard something that just made me sit back and say, fuck me this is perfect — who cares, we’re here and it’s now and it’s wonderful. Midtempo and with half the Muppets as apparent session musicians, there are atonal hooks (OMG!! actually psychedelic!), delicious analogues, crisp production, spacious mastering and a groove that sounds like swimming in lysergic treacle. The final run is the last gasp, with a pant-soiling melody that’s only present for a few bars, but that makes every single thing on the album click. It’s the sound of everything in the world being put right, if only for ninety seconds. It’s the sort of melody that would usually tempt me to say “a musician only comes up with anything this quality once in their life,” but under the circumstances I rather hope this not to be the case.
Flail is by contrast far moodier, albeit comedy moodiness, which is the best type of moodiness. There’s a fair amount of destruction in the midsection and the subsequent depth-charge bass coccoons you like some mad mutant jazzstep hoedown bonkersfest.
Lastly, Pop Rocks does away with the ‘token downtempo shanti massage’ track (actually, does that even still happen? I’m so out of the loop) and turns everything up to eleven, not that reviewers are allowed to say turns everything up to eleven these days… we get hunted down… they don’t call it Pitchfork for nothing. Anyway, yep good track — funky (undeniably), fast (comparatively), and probably the most ‘psychedelic’ track here.
Picture This is bloody good. It’s not perfect — you may completely dislike the jazzy stabs, and most would agree that there are occasional places where repetition encourages one to hit the “skip” button sooner than one would perhaps like, but surely that’s kind of the point when we’re talking about more ‘experimental’ musics?
This is music that hits you, that smacks you, that’s daringly different and differently daring. With so much identikit dross still delighting the clueless and polluting the ears of the rest of us, something as uniquely different as this should be celebrated, highlighted and enjoyed, especially because — and not in spite of the fact that — it’s not psytrance. Tops.