Regular readers of psyreviews (by “regular” I mean either that bowels are in OK working order, and/or that the nightly 3am bladdertrot is as predictable as that the morning catch-up on the news will further enscone the flap-handed hell-in-a-handcartiness trajectory of the world-in-general) may recall that the present writer never really “got” Infected Mushroom.
I always found they were more about style than substance. More about plateing and presentation than nutrition. More about foreplay than post-coital weeks of abject self-loathing.
And yet, I would recognise their strengths. They can make sound move around a multi-dimensional soundscape better than most. They change basslines and move the emphasis of their tracks, subtly, in an almost constant fluidity. They have always been skilled in taking vocal snippets and morphing them around to create genuinely new sounds.
Their problem is and always has been their tendency to do all this with all the dials turned up all the way to eleven. They suffer from a malaise we might call too f*ing much — they’re like the Chuckle Brothers, and what Infected think is a return to their roots is, in fact, little more than a laboured sequence of to me, to you, to me, to you that leaves us all wondering what the actual point of this record is.
I listened to this album on a recent Ryanair flight while visiting family in the UK last month and while I can only assume that Infected Mushroom did not specifically intend their music to be consumed in this way, it was nothing if not a fitting environment to match the sonic experience.
The procession of Welsh travellers to the lavatory post Peroni was instantly recognisable as an analogue to Infected’s legion of fans, both past and (one assumes) present. There may be a psytrance act that better personifies the experience of a budget airline’s lavatory, but name one I cannot.
Ryanair’s twenty grand a year salaries for pleasant but downtrodden cabin crew with arts degrees resonated the entire pointlessness of the album, and I was deeply impressed by Erez’s sonic wizardry that made the sound of a baby crying seem like it was right behind me, before I realised that it was a baby crying right behind me.
That image of a crying, shiny-headed runtish infant might actually be Duvdev, the trance equivalent of the boring partner that a friend in your circle is unable to see as a negative and ultimately destructive bedmate. One can only wonder what musical adventures Erez would have had if he had ditched Duvdev (please don’t write in and send me in the direction of Erez’s solo stuff, if there is any, unless it’s really good, which it won’t be.) As on previous outings, the best moments are when Duvdev has been sent to the shops. Erez’s production certainly shines, but you know you’re never away from return-from-the-shops disappointment.
Which brings us, by happy accident, to the title of the album. Return To The Sauce, a joke at least as old as the first Full English breakfast the morning after the first London club night from which it thieves its name.
This is where it all falls apart: saying that they’re returning to something vintage, old, Goan and psychedelic. By invoking the spirit of the thing-what-started-it-all for many of us, it invites derision, unfair comparison, and a preparation for disappointment.
It sparked in me an instant desire to plough back into old music again, but to a decidedly specific period: 1998, a dazzling time when labels were experimenting away from Indian melodies and making things all about texture. It’s a year that belongs to Matsuri and to Snake Thing, where even GMS (Soundaholix, et cetera ad nauseam) had that feeling of pushing boundaries and a pulsing, shimmering excitement about the future.
That shit is genuine. This shit is not.
Return To The Sauce’s main problem is that you’re unsure if it’s sincere, or a pisstake. If they’re trying, or if they’re not. If they’re wanting you to be impressed, or depressed.
It’s this uneasy schizophrenia that, ultimately, makes this exquisitely missable. Which would be something of a shame, had anyone on the planet been expecting anything other.
- Release Date: 1/2017