Album: The Slowdown
An air of mystique is often something that's sometimes lacking in modern music. New bands that burst on to the scene are instantly visible to all- you know their names, where they come from and their star signs before they've even played their first gig. And usually, that's great. I for one am always finding out everything I can about a new band I've come across. In fact, I reckon a lot of my obsession with The Stone Roses is as a result of my fascination with their back story: strangely, I studied it religiously before listening to a single one of their tracks. An interest in a band tends to drive an interest in their music even more.*
So when I stumbled upon a cracking album earlier this year (thanks to the excellent taste of the 6 Music DJs), it was sort of disconcerting that I couldn't find a single piece of information on this artist. Heck, after a few Google searches I still didn't know if Pilote was an individual, a band, old or young...armed with this curiosity, I decided to listen to the full album.
Luckily, the album delivered from the promising signs that I had already heard. It's a glorious mish-mash of acoustic guitars, electronic drums, spoken word samples and plenty more beyond. Pilote, who by now I've figured out is the alias of electronic artist Stuart Cullen, showcases his deft production and compositional skills throughout The Slowdown- his sixth studio album over the course of a 15 year career that seems to have generally escaped mainstream attention.
The acoustic guitar is the prevalent sound of the album and ensures that atmopsherically, it's a far cry from the album we reviewed last week: Jackson and His Computerband's frenetic effort Blow. The elements that are added on top of the nimble guitar parts are what gives each track it's identity, whether it's the psychedelic musings of Timothy Leary in Me and Timothy Leary or the banjo in Foggy Paddock Backstep.
The Slowdown manages to achieve the rare feat of making 6 minutes+ songs fly by. Shapeshifter Blues, with it's whimsical whistled melody, and Sixth Street Ramble, which slips back in and out of a typically repetitive acoustic rhythm, are the prime examples of this.
It's a collection of songs that segue effortlessly into each other and maintain the identity and relaxed feel of the album as a whole. It's an acoustic, psychedelic and electronic exploration meant for lazy Sunday afternoons. It's a cracking album, and it's by Pilote. Maybe it's about time you started finding out some more about him now!
*See Badfinger (More on them coming up in the next week).