Serengeti & Polyphonic - Bells and a Floating World

by Leonie Mercedes Rating:6 Release Date:2010-12-08

"Make money not excuses," Serengeti succinctly sums up the germ of a global crisis in 'Bon Voyage' to Polyphonic's glassy beats. The effects of the economic downturn did manifest themselves in the Chicago duo's melancholic 2009 album Terradactyl, which showcased a pensive breed of hip-hop. By this year's Bells and a Floating World, those neuroses that were so patent on Terradactyl have metamorphosed into despair. Composed of six brand new tracks, as well as six remixes of tunes off Terradactyl, it is very much a work of two halves.

"Coping with poverty, stealing from loved ones, self-absorption… I wanna talk to the manager…" In 'Polar' Serengeti reels off everyday grievances with banal requests, rendering them pedestrian in so many lists. Unfortunately, if the lyrics seem a bit flimsy, the breaks do too, almost clinical in their joylessly uniform arrangement. This is vegetarian hip-hop. Where's the beef?

A Floating World indeed, the EP doesn't seem to be rooted in anything, and in the first half never really takes hold. However, it does all start to make sense in the green shoots of the last new song, the itchy electro-paranoia of 'Mega Zoo', and the remixes alone make Bells worth the investment. Anticon stablemate Why? remakes 'My Patriotism' with a folkish stomp (and sweeter mood), while Jel turns 'Patiently' into frantic electroclash (but, you know, good), and Epstein y el Conjunto brings serpentine disco with a take on 'La La Lala'. A disjointed collection, but with moments of brilliance.

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