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Pepe Deluxe Spare Time Machine Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Finnish masters of the beat with more eclectic, sample-free fare.

David Labi 2007

One for the more open-minded among us; Spare Time Machine, the third album from Pepe Deluxé rewards several listenings, and some concentration. At first you may find it vague and abstruse. But in many ways it’s a tour de force of richness and originality.

The Finnish band/project/extravaganza is based around two guys – James Spectrum and J-A-Jazz plus Vulunki 3000 - who plays the keys and designs the psychedelic album art - and McGyver who plays bass, harmonica and guitar.

But beside these are a myriad of people playing various bizarre instruments to give the album its psychorchestra feel. The listener is defied to recognise any instrument being played, as even the common ones are mashed up to juicy effect. Just some of the listed instruments will give you some idea: optigan marimba, pixie sprint, marxophone, and metasonix tube synthesiser prototype (!).

The single criticism you might level at Spare Time Machine is that the vocal parts let the music down somewhat. While the lyrics are supposed to be poetic, astute, witty, but they come out as affected and weak. When choirs kick in, some lunatic harmonies work well, but Chris Cote’s voice doesn’t command. Perhaps that is because a solo voice is a tall order against such a massive sound.

Reminiscent of Beck, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, the Avalanches and the adventurous hip hop beat cutters of the late 90s, this album is totally sample free, yet moves with breathless orchestration through a panoply of sonic shakes, rhythm breaks and fascinating vibraphone and Theramin jams.

It’s most definitely worth your time.

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