Review : Metronomy - LateNightTales
PitchforkIn the evolution of the Late Night Tales mix series from showcasing acts like Zero 7 and Groove Armada into a more self-aware series of homages to yacht rock and MOR 1980s pop over the past decade, it's comfortably occupied that place where music taste seems performative yet sincere, aware of its potentially embarrassing tendencies but not entirely inclined to care. Its expanded stylistic scope makes a statement in itself: If you want to fight against the idea that downtempo slow jams are soporific garbage, it's a savvy move to string together examples from every corner imaginable-- radio-ready R&B, fusion jazz, IDM, indie pop, MOR, folk, ambient, new age-- and pull off at least a moderately unpredictable dynamic by trading genre for mood. Split the difference between all these styles, and in the best case scenario, the compilation curators come up with their own new thing entirely.
The worst-case scenario, meanwhile, mostly involves a lot of weird juxtaposition for its own sake. And while Metronomy's entry into the Late Night Tales series isn't necessarily the worst case of anything, it is one of those mixes where half the entertainment value seems reliant on poking at clashing sensibilities. Joe Mount and co. have spent their three-album career toying with styles and then jumping off to the next thing, and the tracklist on this collection clearly comes from the library of someone who knows the value of being adventurous without losing sight of what makes for decent pop. Building a bridge from Tweet to Chick Corea or Autechre to the Alan Parsons Project is one of those egalitarian-in-theory notions that comes from the noble idea of trying to make the avant and the accessible at least shake hands for a bit, and when it's pulled off well, notions of so-called clashing sensibilities feel mercifully irrelevant.
It's a brilliant choice to lead things off with OutKast's underrated The Love Below deep cut "Prototype", the swoony psychedelic soul that emerged when André 3000 tried taking his own slice from D'Angelo's Voodoo. And the transition into Tweet's "Drunk", an overlooked piece of headswimming, loneliness-wrecked heartbreak from Southern Hummingbird, makes this the beginning of what, in another context, could have been an amazing dedication to the more introspective and intensely slow-burning moments of early-00s R&B. But then the scene starts to shift-- subtly at first, from there into soul-jazz and fusion (Sa-Ra Creative Partners' "Cosmic Ball"; Chick Corea's "El Bozo, Part 1"), then into a pile-up of indie rap (Dr. Octagon), 80s electro-soul (World Class Wreckin' Cru), 70s soft rock (the Alessi Brothers), IDM (Autechre)-- and soon enough, the pieces stop actually fitting together....full text
ResidentadvisorThere are two ways of listening to Joe Mount of Metronomy's LateNightTales. In the first instance, you can barely help but mentally high-five yourself as you spot the original sources of the signature sounds which Metronomy employs so effectively. For instance, in Japan bassist Mick Karn's ethereal jazzy playing and in the sunny Sunday morning funk of OutKast's "Prototype," you can trace the origins of the unusually supple basslines (not to mention the earnest faith in eccentricity), that makes Metronomy much more than just another electro pop act.
In its skeletal minimalism, albeit then filtered through a diffident English aesthetic, Tweet's "Drunk" is a clear blueprint for many Metronomy tracks. Listen to Chick Corea's "El Bozo (Part 1)" and you'll begin to understand Mount's distinctive love of reedy synths. The Alessi Brothers' "Seabird," meanwhile, complete with cheap, chiming soft-focus keyboards, hissing drum machine and breezy folk rock vocal, could have been lifted from The English Riviera.
Mount completes this conversation across the ages by covering, brilliantly, Jean-Michel Jarre's "Hypnose." (Lindstrom, you imagine, will be gutted he didn't get there first.) Incidentally, this glimpse behind the curtain in no way diminishes Mount's talent. No magic is lost. Instead, you can only marvel at his magpie ear; his ability to pull together inspirational textures and sounds from such diverse source material. ...full text
PulseradioThe fact that Metronomy, or Joe Mount more accurately, has joined the illustrious LateNightTales club, it could be viewed, in some fastidious quarters, as a sign of musical maturity. Over the last decade, some of the industry’s genuine playmakers have allowed listeners to enter their intricate and gifted minds; wander around for a bit while they somehow try to take in the very diverse, and often surreal, surroundings. Arguably, this has been the mooted pros and cons of the series, with established names opting more for the obscure rather than the easy-on-the-ear sounds.
For most of us though, this is what we expect, possibly want, from such a uniquely unorthodox collection. Belle & Sebastian and Tom Findlay of Groove Armada have already set the pace this year with successful LNT outings, so for Mount, who of course fronts a band that hardly lack in both non-conformity and imagination, was no doubt chomping at the bit when the opportunity arose.
The only danger, however, was Mount potentially seizing such fragile expectation and deliver something that even the most loyal of Metronomy fans would have trouble digesting. Mount’s fondness of quirky R&B and ‘90s hip-hop features early, notably Dr Octagon’s chilling ‘Blue Flowers’, before guiding you to the band’s cover version of Jean Michelle Jarre's 1973 track ‘Hypnose’ – the traditional LNT salute.
The remainder of the journey is a blend of indie, prog rock and IDM, presenting the weird (‘Tonto's Expanding Head Band’ by Cybernaut) to the wonderful (Alessi Brothers’ ‘Seabird’), however there will be moments when you’ll try to think of the right time and place for a number of Mount’s choices, and maybe there just isn’t. Maybe this is the innate question that somehow gives the series precedence over others…...full text
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