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Ranting Raver Reviews 3 (incl. Gorillaz+DJ Hell)

Not sure what exactly our resident cynic has been smoking but we caught him in a pretty happy-go-lucky mood as he waded through some current bombs. Check out his verdict.

 

Gorillaz featuring Little Dragon

- Empire Ants

Label: Parlophone/Virgin

Rating: 9/10

 

Damon Albarn, eh, he may be the brainchild behind animated virtual band Gorillaz but for those of us who experienced his drunken on-stage tirades in 1995 ("students - pah, I'll have yer!") a large part of him will forever be associated with that highly affected and (thus) highly punchable bolshy, faux-cockney persona. But unlike former (equally bolshy and (thus) equally punchable) sparring partners Oasis, Albarn has, to his credit, blossomed into one of the outstanding British musicians of our age. And it shows on 'Empire Ants', arguably the standout track on Gorillaz much-anticipated new long player Plastic Beach. A simply stunning piece of mellow, cutesy electronic pop which segues Albarn's harmonies into the dulcet Swedish-Japanese tones of Yukimi Nagano from Little Dragon, another band to watch on the festival circuit this summer.

 

 

Bomb The Bass featuring Kelley Polar

- X-Ray Eyes

Label: K7! Records

Rating: 8/10

 

Whilst on the subject of unlikely double acts, how about this - Bomb the Bass, original soldiers of acid house teaming up with East Coast doyens of lounge electro-pop Kelley Polar on this cut from Bomb the Bass new album Back to Light. Bomb the Bass main man Tim Simenon never really matched the immediate commercial success of ‘Beat Dis' in 1988 but following a career lull and a much-publicised trial in the 90s, he has quietly and steadily resurrected his career culminating in a universally acclaimed set at the Big Chill in 2008. The result here is a delightful harkback to the cosmic disco era - spacey strings and arpeggiated synths, each lent an added sense of drama by Kelley Polar, a seriously intense live performer, known to occasionally don radioactive costumes on stage (and why not?). On the remix, John Tejada lends a beefier but no less pleasing house flavour to proceedings.

 

 

DJ Hell featuring Bryan Ferry (with Carl Craig Remixes)

Label: International Deejay Gigolo Records

Rating: 9/10

 

Original with Official Video

Carl Craig Remix 1

Carl Craig Remix 2

And yet another strange coupling! DJ Hell (kudos for the name alone) produced one of my all time faves ‘My definition of house music' way back in 1992 and after bubbling in semi-obscurity for many years, he returned to prominence in the early 2000s with a ballsy electroclash update of the Grace Jones classic ‘I've Seen That Face Before'. Since then he has steadily built up a following on the outstanding International Deejay Gigolos label, most recently with ‘The Angst' and ‘The DJ' in 2009.

This track however has the greatest potential to crossover to a larger audience by virtue of featuring the suavest man in music (on earth?), albeit an artist better-known in recent years for the wild antics of his fox-hunting, parliament-storming son Otis. Already doing the rounds last year, this track has now received the royal stamp of approval from Carl Craig, whose own mixes (1&2) have caused a considerable stir on deeper and techier floors alike. Strong vocals were long due a comeback in the clubs and as a sucker for all things by all 3 artists, I can safely say all versions of this work quite brilliantly.