Well lorks a lummy, as one might say, because it appears as though Tip are back again, or are they, with a new album, or is it, featuring a selection of “cherry picked sound nuggets from some of Raj’s best friends blended together seamlessly” (i.e., Lucas and Protools are behind the mix, and Raja himself probably isn’t).
Already we’re beset by is-it-or-isn’t-it, and the album hasn’t even started yet. Luckily, the opening strains of Wolfgang’s Tea Party from Sybarite has a bassline that channels a ridiculous amount of Massive Attack’s Safe From Harm, rendering it largely missable and frustration (although I feel I should thank it for spiralling me off into half of Protection and a couple of Nelle Hooper remixes of tracks therefrom. A consequence of instantly-available streamed everything is absolute musical ADHD.)
Barefoot Doctor’s Trust is a guided meditation set to minimal music and as such, is something with precisely three lives: the first time you listen to it you’re not really listening to it; the second time you actually are properly listening to it; and the third time you’re listening you’re playing it to someone else. After which, you never listen to it again. Perhaps tainted by Massive Attack’s after-image, Barefoot Doctor’s refrain “everything works together to produce the highest good now” sounds smackingly like 3D on Five Man Army.
Next up is Maroc from DJ Hal (what creativity in this scene to name ones DJ self after a film released 45 years ago!) and it’s extremely flimsy. The triplety rhythm sounds like square wheels, the bassline embraces all that is repetitive and none that is hypnotic, and the fifth minute sounds exactly like the first: there’s very little development. Meanwhile Aixo (who are these people, honestly) produces absolutely the greatest end-of-level soundtrack to a Megadrive beat ‘em up since — surely — Streets Of Rage 2.
The flow of the album suffers somewhat from the appearance of the ambient mix of Astral Projection’s Visions of Nasca, which sounds like it was found on some dusty rusty DAT from somewhere around the “proper” track’s appearance in 1999. It’s half-baked, which I sort of wish I was, as the dull and leaden migraine-with-a-kickdrum presumably sounds better the closer your head is to the floor.
Tonto’s Expansion by Gaudi isn’t bad, it’s Gaudi in his “electronic musician” guise as opposed to his “world musician” guise, and the latter I find infinitely more objectionable. There are thunky and crunchy sounds here, and it even threatens to stretch out into something that sounds like it’s never been heard before. The quality is maintained with Zen Lemonade’s Marcel Rising, with its playful melodies and general sense of being-conceived-from-a-plane-elsewhere just about outweighing the plasticy breakbeat that runs through it.
On listening to Summer Snow, I have a message for Logic Bomb: You Are Absolutely Not Vibrasphere.
I never thought I’d hear myself saying this but Loud have made an excellent track, in the shape of Triceratops. It’s sensible, it’s different, it escalates nicely and its only real downside is that it’s overshadowed entirely by Benji Vaughan’s Busy As A BEE, which has lots of that Flock Of Bleeps sound and a delightful swaying groove. Bloody excellent.
The quality continues (as they say on hospital radio) with Dickster’s Locked In The Silver Box, which I like very much. It’s a bit Pink Floydy (although I hate Pink Floyd) and the end run is a bit Green Nunsy (and I like Green Nuns). One sort of wishes that Dickster made more music like this, a bit like when the afore-referenced Flock Of Bleeps showed that trance people can accomplish excellent things when they remove their foot from the lysergic accelerator pedal.
If Dickster’s track is good and too short, Laughing Buddha’s is good and too long. It’s a little like Ott’s camper van spun out on the A38 (is it still called that? It’s been a while, England) and Crystalight was what formed on the road when the ageing nag champa reacted with ageing Castrol. It may actually even be a collaboration with Ott; I’m unsure, denied as we nowadays are the lengthy sleevenotes that are awkward to package in a Spotify environment.
After Crystalight ends while trying desperately hard not to be the end of Smoked Glass And Chrome, there is a mercifully short and barely-pretentious-at-all Grand Piano And Flute Concerto In E Minor by, it says here, Shpongle. You may notice that by italicising the track name we’re flying in the face of the Psyreviews “Style” “Guide” (names of tracks on current album and name of album itself, never in italics; name of external album referenced in order to appear knowledgeable, always in italics) and we’re doing that, dear reader, to emphasise that Shpongle, meaning Simon Posford and Raja Ram, have indeed released a track called Grand Piano And Flute Concerto In E Minor. Which I find amusing.
All in all? A couple of good tracks and a lot of filler, which I can’t believe we’re still saying now some 1,500 years after 1998. Digital means lower barriers to the availability of music; why should that also entail a drop in quality (and I mean artistic, not bitrate)?
Dickster: do an album of downtempo tracks. Benji Vaughan: do an album of downtempo tracks.
Everyone else: stop it (especially Logic Bomb).
- Release Date: 3/2013