This has to be one of the strangest albums I have had under the reviewing pen in a long time. But strange is good. In fact strange is better than good as it is the opposite of words like predictable, conformist, expected, mainstream, generic and normal and those are certainly not words you, as an artist, would be looking to find in a write-up about your creative efforts. But what makes this so unusual? Well, many things. It is genre-hopping. Fractured. Musically impulsive. Sonically wrong-footed. It is like so much that you have heard but then smashed into small pieces and pieced back together to create interesting new sonic shapes. Sort of like a surrealist painting only in sound.
The intriguingly named opening salvo, Tobacco For Breakfast sort of plays it straight, lulls you into a false sense of security, a smooth, West Coast, chilled dance groove that makes you think you know what the album is all about. But before long the subversiveness starts slipping in. Bags comes on like groovesome mainstream jazz-pop before completely heading off into pastoral interludes and hazy vocal inclusions. By the time Gilmore’s trad-jazz intro warps into ambient piano vibes and brooding bass undertones you have to admit that there is no point trying to second guess things and should just go with the flow.
Clueless is a thumping dance anthem, pounding four-four beats with islands of musical isolation and imploring, drifting vocals employed more as an instrument than as a means of lyrical communication and Brown Stone Babies seems to wander between skittering jazz-soul classicism and cutting edge, hypnotic dance floor repetitions.
It’s an album which reveals more, the more you play it. It will never quite make sense but the world is better with the mystery left in it. In a world where we seem to know every fact and reason behind music, have a window on every aspect of an artist’s waking hours, such strange, beguiling, ambiguous and mysterious music should be applauded. Let strangeness be the order of the day. Let unpredictability be your guardian angel. And let music like this be the new sound-track to a more exploratory way of living.