Tonight, I finally took the time to whip up my 4th article for N0ted. i$e my friend, I give to you Younger Brother - Last Days OF Gravity
. Might proofread a bit before posting, but I think it came out well. Hope you like
As an avid fan of electronic music, i've been incredibly picky as to what I enjoy. One man throughout the years that has never let me down is Psy-trance mastermind Simon Posford. He and Raja Ram started Shpongle in the late 90's, a project so groundbreaking that it immediately amassed a loyal cult following, and the band's supporting tours were embellished by the pure flamboyance, ethereal stage designs and theatrics you'd expect to compliment the music. I always felt like there was an evolution in Simon's craft, this can be clearly seen when you compare his infant project "Hallucinogen" with Shpongle, going from pure electronica to varying his sound with intercultural instrumentation that would make Peter Gabriel proud. It's this sense of evolution that made him one of the most revered and best kept secrets in the industry today.
Fresh off the heels of Simon's critically acclaimed Shpongle record "Nothing Lasts.. but nothing is lost.", he went back to the drawing board with fellow producer Benji Vaughan to craft a far more atmospheric album as the follow up to their Younger Brother debut record "A Flock of Bleeps". Drawing influences from 70's prog-rock while working with a palette of distinctive equipement to make the sound their own. Pink Floyd was obviously a huge influence on the duo, most apparent on 'Psychic Gibbon ' where the track slowly builds with it's synth until they incorporate a delicate guitar riff reminiscent of the Cure, from there the track blossoms into a delightful muse that overwhelms you with emotion. If the song structure wasn't Floyd-like enough, the band acquired the services of Storm Thorgerson to create their cover art, the same man that created the iconic "Dark Side of the Moon" and "Wish You Were Here" covers, signaling the ambition of this project right out of the gate.
The album works well as the sum of it's parts, as each track beautifully compliments the next as a conceptual piece , and yet the tracks are distinctive enough to make for a compelling listen individually. If you're familiar with the aformentioned Shpongle project, you'll know that this brand of psychedelic electronica was conceptualised as something to be experienced on quality headphones and with your undivided attention, rather than a casual listen to compliment your daily errands. Younger Brother is far more accessible and atmospheric than the eccentric agape that the former project forced the listener into, but then again that was completely intentional. That's not to say that Last days of Gravity doesn't have it's psychedelic moments, the uptempo "I am a Freak" sticks out as a tour de force that acts as a mood breaker, clocking in midway through the album with it's pulsating rhythm, erratic progression and a wicked mingled vocal sample that makes this a pleasant wavering of the mood sustained up until that point. The first track opens up with fantastic percussion and really helps set the tone for what's to come. "Happy Pills" is indeed one of the best examples of the genre at it's strong point, so if you can't get into this track, that's a strong precursor that the entirety of Last days may not be your thing. "Elephant Machine" and "Ribbon on a Branch" are two standouts to me, the former blending together a funky Bass Groove with mindbending Analog, while the latter is a nice and smooth Native American-like track with Leftfield member Ru Campbell handling vocals. The duo used equipement such as Reaktor and Korg, but also impliment a decent array of organic instrumentation throughout to blend the project with enough layers to make this interesting to the most fickle audiophile.
Despite the minor setbacks, you can't shake the feeling that Simon and Benji crafted something uniquely special here, cementing their work in with the likes of Orb as music pioneers that are way ahead of their time. Simon Posford is a genius with very few missteps in his career, and for my money this is the best non-Shpongle record he's ever concocted. The absolute brilliance of this album resonates strongly with me everytime I give it a listen, and continually pick up on subtle nuances that I haven't noticed before. After the disappointing follow-up that was "Vaccine", here's to hoping that Younger Brother get back on track and create more music that is worth getting excited for.