Junk Culture - West Coast - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Junk Culture - West Coast

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-03-29

Is summer here? No, but its soundtracks are already among us. Brooklyn's preppy boys The Drums kicked things off super early by releasing their sunshiny Summertime! album in the dead of winter. Then in chilly February came South Carolina's Toro Y Moi's debut album Causers of This. Toro Y Moi's melding of hip hop, psychedelia and mid-80s synth honk has been bracketed in with chill-wave, a genre primarily associated with summer parties on endless stretches of beach. Now we have West Coast from Junk Culture aka Deepak Mantena, a record so suffused with carefree sunny vibes it might well come imbedded with a subliminal message to drag out the barbeque and start texting your mates.

West Coast is almost a spiritual twin of Causers of This. It draws from the same sound palette of hip hop artists like Flying Lotus and J Dilla; one minute we're drifting in a lysergic soundscape ('For Elsie'), the next we encounter densely rhythmic, complex tribal beats ('My Two Hands' and 'That's Not Me'). Mantena keeps things constantly shifting, gleefully wrong-footing the listener. His other big influence seems to be Grand Master Flash's deathless demonstration of DJ ingenuity, 'The Adventures of Grand Master Flash on the Wheels of Steel'. 'American Minute Song' continually switches tracks, looping back on itself and abruptly changing style. It has a great live DJ performance feel. Final track 'Caramel Valley Girls', meanwhile, includes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance from Aphex Twin's 'Windowlicker'.

However, West Coast never loses sight of its purpose as a party record. 'Daydream of Olea' even features a helium voice chanting the word 'happy' and some muffled crowd chatter. In fact, the only thing standing in the way of West Coast being a really great summer record is that it's too damn short. Several tracks here are little more than skits and sketches. 'Watson's Glassy Stare', for example, is nothing more than a series of fuzzy acid house sploges. It's hardly going to keep the good vibes happening into the long summer nights. But never mind, there're more than enough tricks, diversions and surprises packed into the longer tracks to keep you coming back to West Coast long after summer becomes an unfortunately distant memory.

Richard Morris

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