...an intriguing and darkly lovely album...
Matt Harvey 2005-06-13
Elmore is the alter ego of Jesse Hackett, a keyboard session player with a good reputation, having worked with such luminaries as Barrington Levy, Ms. Dynamite and Finlay Quaye. Angel Sound is his first solo venture, our first journey into his world. It's a point underlined on the opening skit, "Birth Of Elmore".
And a somewhat unsettling place it is too, though the form is familiar. I guess it's a sort of lo-fi soul; the album's length and feel are in keeping withsouls golden era. Think Stevie's Fufilingness First Finale or Sly Stone's There's A Riot Goin' On (okay, it's not quite that good, but you get my drift).
The tracks collide into each other, with no gaps put between them. It creates an alienating effect which keeps your ears alert. The sound is generally down tempo, off kilter and all over the place. At its oddest, on tracks like "Kinky", there's an old fashioned fairground quality to the music - creepy! There are touches of Prince, Outkast, avant-hop and gospel, all held together by a jumpy intensity. This is soul music of the most paranoidand unsettling variety.
This soundscape is peopled by odd and alienated characters, perverts and fantasists, their voices slightlywarped through electronic trickery. The character in "Bitter Gnome" claims 'Girls make me sick', and "Kinky" seems to be about a stalker. The track titles themselves -"Orchestra of Addicts, "Death Doves and Love Angels" -are worthy of Tom Waits.
The album is weakest when it strays into organic and jazzy territory, the straightness of the saxophone solo on "There's A War Going On Outside" just doesn't fit. But thankfully these moments are few and far between.
AngelSound is an intriguing and darkly lovely album, which I - for one -can't stop listening to.