Beyond The Wizard's Sleeve - The Soft Bounce

by Ian Fraser Rating:7 Release Date:2016-07-01

The title may make it sound a bit like a proprietary brand of fabric conditioner or loose-limbed baggie throwback but mercifully (on both counts) it isn’t.

DJs Richard Norris and Erol Alkan enlist the help of sundry singers each with a fair claim to a degree or several of cool and the outcome of this variable collision is an armoury of dreamy, kosmische dance disco destined to gladden the soul and, more than occasionally, tap the foot.

‘Delicious Light’ settles into that there motoric groove after a deceptively glacial opener, but it all starts getting a bit more interesting with the “Beck and Gnod take on the glam rock monsters” of ‘Iron Age’. ‘Creation’ is the outrider many of you will have heard all over Radio 6 Music recently, much like a retro-Stereolab/Soundcarriers rash, immersed in gorgeously skipping jazz-light grooves and stand-out (or rather blissed-out) vocals from Jane Weaver and Hannah Peel, before Euros Child brings his accented, slightly adenoidal sounding and considerable presence to the lovely orchestral psych of ‘Door To Tomorrow’. God how we miss Gorky’s.

So far so far out. By comparison the mid-section treads water. There’s the 80S 4AD infused with Pet Shop Boys techno of ‘Diagram Girl’ and the Holly Miranda fronted ‘Black Crow’ which for all I know could have been an Adele outtake from a James Bond movie soundtrack. “This is pop” as XTC once sang. ‘Tomorrow Forever’ takes us through a glass darkly, all mumbling intonations over washes of synths, as if Enya or her Clannad mates had gone all Goth instead of on a shopping trip down anodyne alley, but it’s ‘Finally First’ which truly drags us back into the top flight, with echoes of Julian Cope’s early 80s keys (you know, the ones that sounded like they were being played by a one armed monkey wearing oven gloves – and by god I mean that as a complement) and tribal-like drumming. It all wraps up with Jon Savage narrating extracts from hallucinatory heaven and hell experiences (the results of dodgy kebabs I expect) over a swirling mass of psychedelic noise. “It was ecstasy and it was horrible” he intones. All told, with its imaginative and hedonistic sounding mix of light and darkness, it’s somewhere between the two I reckon.

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