Imagine a team-up between Jon Hassell, Brian Eno and Level 42.
Martin Longley 2009
Meanderthals is a collaboration between London's Idjut Boys and Oslo's Rune Lindbaek, a project that these friends have toyed with for years and finally realised in the studio.
The concept of the 'meanderthal', as proposed by the sociologist/artist Matthew Tiessen, involves a modern city-dweller who is always 'in the way', obstructing or dawdling, slowing down the fast ebb and flow of the average urbanite. Meanderthals are able to view this as a positive quality, and their debut album might just be overheard, snicking away through the earphones of such a wafting individual.
The Idjut Boys have been DJing together for two decades. Dan Tyler and Conrad McConnell have steadfastly refused any genre restrictions, although the mincing together of house and disco has always been a chief interest. Lindbaek is their Norwegian equivalent: a producer, DJ and remixer of similar musical bent. But it's not quite clear where the core Meanderthal contribution lies, as most of the music's key elements are provided by the trio's guest crew of players: keyboardist Pete Z, bassist Malcolm Joseph, drummer Des Morgan and percussionists Per Martinsen and Raj Gupta.
Most pieces hover around the six or seven minute region, and there's not a great deal of distinction between them, as the album is primarily concerned with creating a cumulative flow. The tunes are approachable and bright, loaded with summery acoustic guitar strumming and hazy electric slide-work, almost bluesy in nature. The reverb soaks through everything, as steel pans ripple over perky basslines, and a bass drum persistently marks time at parade pace.
Meanderthals' optimistic shimmer borders on blandness, with New Age music as its foundation. This is music for extended journeying, making up a shuffling stomp, complete with handclaps and globular bass. The formula is at its best on Andromeda (Prelude to the Future) and Lasaron Highway, where an Autobahn motion swells up around Joseph's slippery basslines.
Ultimately, the group ends up being a curious amalgamation of German ambient tones and British jazz-funk, their gaseous keyboards recalling the sounds of Klaus Schulze and their overall vibration being something along the lines of an imagined team-up between Jon Hassell, Brian Eno and Level 42.