Posted on 30 October 2012 by Bowlegs
ChesnuTT’s 2002 album, The Headphone Masterpiece, was put down on a 4 track – yet had ample space for some affecting soul and creativity -it was even cherry-picked by The Roots for their awesome cut The Seed. Ten years have passed and ChessnuTT returns in the comfort of Al Green’s Memphis Studio – with a 10-piece backing band in tow. So forget the DIY aesthetics – this is some smooth-ass Soul; all played to perfection by a group of old school pros. It instantly places ChesnuTT in the realms of Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder – but that’s not to say he’s hitting their highs just yet.
Moments here can feel like nine-to-five session duty for the backing band –ChesnuTT’s lyrical prowess (that unravel life’s trials and tribulations with real experience) may hit the mark – yet their effect can be diluted, like a mainstream edit, by the tidy and warmed production. Some do escape unscathed – Under The Spell of the Handout has an immediacy that works wonders, Don’t Follow Me is a lost spirit that yearns in a late night jazz bar and I’ve Been Life has a funky- get-down spring in its step. However it goes down it’s good to have Cody ChesnuTT back on board the Soul train.
Posted on 10 October 2011 by Bowlegs
It’s all very well getting iPhone apps, specially created instruments (the Gameleste – a Gamelan and Celeste together as one) and impressive videos in line for your new record, but there is the small matter of the music.
With the elongated, and full-blown build-up to the record, we had feared this was going to be all iPads (used to record some of the record) and lunar-bound narrative – but more fool us for doubting Björk. These songs may take on vaporous areas of space and time, but they are delivered with soul and talent.
‘Moon’ is like an oriental love scene, made from cascading timbres and some gently picked strings. It opens the record in a fairly low-key fashion, the singer’s voice crossing paths with itself, finding unison and rising intermittently from the unassuming backdrop.
‘Crystalline’ is a highlight, not just from the record, but from her whole career – a constant wailing vocal hook allows her to unleash the stirring emotion from within, the Gameleste falls like droplets of rain upon the fluctuating, electronic percussion.
‘Hollow’ uses a different tack. The keyboards work in staccato and suspenseful nature; the singer meanwhile remains relatively out of sight with the electro beat entering for just a short distance.
With such a mass of sound at her disposable Björk is, in fact, restrained – the songs never really losing focus, just mutating with drum and bass attitude or electronic overload. Such moments – like in the second half of the excellent ‘Sacrifice’ – are the cathartic passages to re-address the balance with the vocal tones and ever-changing backdrop.
Of course it is Björk’s voice that remains the most unique instrument on offer here – her wails and whines thrown across a series of experimental passages – occasionally dropping subtle melody within the process. It has once more built a record of inimitable music that could only come from the Icelandic artist.
Posted on 07 March 2011 by Bowlegs
Wild Palms play the kind of epic rock last heard around 1986. Like stadium rockers U2 and Simple Minds, Wild Palms songs are full of strong repetitive arrangements, a passionate bellowed vocal and plenty of distorted delayed guitar. It kicks and writhes, and is not interested in nuanced emotion. So how is it that these nu-brutalists are throwing off all we’ve learned about detail in this post-dubstep land? Is it that the global recession calls for a determined simplicity? Is this what record companies think we need? No wonder they’re going to the dogs.
Contrast this with Warpaint. A lot of what they do is quite conventional, but they manage to inject it with lyrical and musical ennui that truly spooks one out. Above the tight bass and drum structures float intertwining detailed melodies. It still rocks LA style in places; it still conjures up epic landscapes. Not so with Wild Palms: the music sits squarely before you like cold sausage, egg and chips, and you desperately wish that there was some ketchup to hand. The singer does not engage us. The music is scared to attempt anything new. There is nothing to fear.
The sound is brilliantly produced, we admit. There are a number of places where we thought what a great drum sound they’d achieved. In fact, we’re referencing ‘Caretaker’ as a classic recorded floor tom sound. And when they allow some quieter moments to exist, such as on the album closer ‘Not Wing Clippers’, our interest glimmers: especially with that cute end secret track (a slowed down fragment of a potential new direction?).
End note: this band is not for your home listening pleasure. It is built for the festival season. As their title suggests ‘Never ceasing ever increasing’, this band could, potentially, conquer the world. We should have reviewed it through a 100,000 watt PA to get the right impression (can you sort this out next time Ed?). JT