Chilly Gonzales - Ivory Tower - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Chilly Gonzales - Ivory Tower

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2010-08-30

Berlin resident and mate of Peaches, Gonzales has in the last decade moved from prankster rapper to lounge pianist. Ivory Tower, a mainly instrumental work, could be said to be his 'chill out' album, were the term not so utterly abhorrent. Nevertheless, it's full of dreamy soundscapes and a distinctly 90s dance feel, helped along by Gonzales' piano tinkling, which at times has a very rave feel to it.

Despite its laidback stance, Ivory Tower is still a party album of sorts. It's a bit late for the summer, perhaps, but it positively undulates with good time, warm weather vibes. Don't be totally taken in though. As ever with Gonzales, there's evidence this feel good stance comes with a hefty dose of irony. On 'I Am Europe', for example, he derives audible relish from delivering lines such as "I am an imperial armpit sweating Chianti" over the gentle funky house vibes. "I hold a grudge like a rapper holds his crotch," he spits on 'The Grudge', a maudlin piano ballad which sounds like it belongs on Lou Reed's Berlin.

Often, Ivory Tower sounds like the kind of album Moby would make if he possessed an ounce of the wit and talent he believes he has. 'Smothered Mate' manages to meld Steve Reich with Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' and totally makes it work. 'Pixel Paxil' is an extremely odd an interesting piece of modern music. Meanwhile, 'You Can Dance' is an all out party classic, the kind of track Daft Punk lost the ability to make years ago.

Ivory Tower could do with more moments like this because, while it's never less than intriguing and Gonzales' piano playing is thoroughly accomplished, it's just a little too soulless at its core. Tracks like 'Never Stop' evolve from interesting starting points to become bland house filler, something for a trendy pub to pump out in the background while people chatter away. This, ultimately, was Moby's fate and it would be a shame it was Gonzales' too. The highpoints of Ivory Tower prove he deserves a lot more attention.

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