One Breath... Anna-robic
Albums Round-Up: Anna Calvi, Moby, Chase & Status
Published on October 9th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
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Here you go, reviews of One Breath by Anna Calvi, Brand New Machine by Chase & Status, and Innocents by Moby.
Agree? Disagree? It makes no odds, really, but feel free to tell us how ace we are/give us a good ticking off in the comments section below…
Anna Calvi – One Breath
Sultry, otherworldly, spellbinding; Calvi’s second is all these things and, on occasion, something altogether scuzzier.
It’s no mean feat to forge luxury out of peculiarity and intensity; hats off then to “Piece By Piece”, and to the immediately ensuing “Cry”, which conceals an explosive intermission amidst its low key loveliness.
“Sing to Me” stirs and swells with consummate, er, cinematicity, the title track melts into an exquisite string arrangement that briefly threatens a strange turn, while “Love of My Life” breaks out the sleazy fuzz/fuzzy sleaze and drips some weird synth over it.
You want some more weird? “Carry Me Over” is magnificently weird, and, juxtaposed with the blissed-out resonance of “Bleed Into Me” – and eventually the choral ascent into heaven of two-minute closer “The Bridge” – outlines how much there is to commend One Breath for.
Crucially, it’s equipped with the warmth and air of mystery to elevate it beyond the realms of artifice and into spiritual connectivity. Soul food with some mind-expanding properties, oh yes.
One Breath is out now on Domino.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Chase & Status – Brand New Machine
C&S’s third is a well-crafted and undoubtedly loving tribute to the ’90s and its various electronic sub-genres, but it’s not an experience you couldn’t at least match by putting a
mix tape mix CD playlist of old favourites together.
Brand New Machine starts promisingly enough with “Gun Metal Grey”, its pitch-lowered vocal, sludgy guitar, F1-ish scratching and tinny, skittering beat striking as a good-humoured antidote to the commercial dubstep of yore.
The gritty abrasiveness of “International” leads into and then promptly back out of a pleasant skank, so the mood of ‘pleasant surprise’ lasts a whole two tracks before the procession of genre exercises kicks in.
We’re treated to old skool (“Count on Me”), garage (“Blk & Blu”), hip-hop (“Gangsta Boogie”), trip-hop (“Heaven Knows”), breakbeat (“Breathing”), drum and bass (“Alive”) and, on “Deeper Devotion”, something that reminds us of the kind of “club mix” you’d get as a B-side on CD2 of a ’90s indie band’s single.
The star turns are probably worth mentioning – “Pressure” features Major Lazer, “Machine Gun” Pusha T and “What is Right” the in-demand Nile Rodgers, as well as some lovely vocal harmonies from Abigail Wyles.
Ultimately, though, there ain’t all that much of a point beyond providing a non-contemporaneous soundtrack for someone’s ’90s-themed party. That’s a function of sorts, we suppose.
Brand New Machine is out now on Virgin EMI.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!
Moby – Innocents
Moby’s eleventh is…wait a second. Does anyone out there own all eleven Moby albums? We can scarcely imagine such a thing. Well, everyone’s got Play, but surely no-one ever listens to it…?
All these years on, the stigmatised chill-out merchant still deals in washing, minor-key synth strings, sparse mid-tempo beats and ghostly, exotic samples. There’s even an old blues vocal on “The Last Day”, as if it had been left on the cutting room floor and forgotten about until now.
As easy as it is to be sniffy about Innocents, there’s some good stuff on it: Cold Specks contributes a powerful vocal to “A Case for Shame”, the Damien Jurado-featuring “Almost Home” ascends into celestial splendour, while the Wayne Coyne-featuring “The Perfect Life” sounds a bit like Coldplay taking on acid house, and yes that is somehow a good thing here.
Mark Lanegan’s awesome grizzled voice distinguishes “The Lonely Night”, capping a wisely chosen array of guest vocalists. These distractions are however necessary because, some stellar moments notwithstanding, Innocents packs very little in the way of surprises.
Innocents is out now on Little Idiot.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!