Release Date: 07.16.02
Record label: warner bros.
by: bill aicher
In today's new "hip" era of genre-bends and "chill-out" sessions, trip-hop and downbeat groups have seen a popularity surge amongst the more radio-friendly crowd. Not to say the music itself has become more radio-friendly (it hasn't, and likely never will be), but the music is permeating much deeper into the musically conscious than ever before. Three years ago you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone to tell you who Morcheeba was (although they were much more "original" then). Now you can see their videos on MTV2. Go figure.
But amongst this increase in genre-popularity there remains the question as to if the music itself is really getting all that better. Truthfully, Morcheeba have never really been all that exciting. Leaders of a genre tend to come in threes, and the "trip-hop" movement is no different: Portishead, Massive Attack, and Morcheeba have long been the leaders in this musical school. The thing is, Morcheeba haven't ever really deserved their placement among the others and Charango certainly doesn't help argue their case much.
Sure, Skye Edwards has a blissfully sensual vocal presence; she's always been the group's saving grace. The problem with Charango, as with their past work, is Paul and Ross Godfrey don't offer anything much on the engaging side as far as the music and beats go. Yes, they're constructed properly but they lack the "oomph" and soul necessary for the music they're making. Exceptions are the tropical sunset groove of "Sao Paolo" (where Skye again shines) and "Public Displays of Affection" (again, it may just be Skye's vocals saving it here). Still on instances like the title track, the beats and scratches are unbelievably predictable. I've heard it before countless times; there's more to music than just doing it properly. Fortunately vocals from Pace Won save the track.
And speaking of guest appearances, here's a little leson for Morcheeba: it's one thing to bring Kurt Wagner of Lambchop in on a track, it's another thing to feature him on an unbelievably annoying piece ("What New York Couples Fight About"). Thankfully Slick Rick's darkly comedic guest appearance on "Women Lose Weight" is straight-up Slick Rick, balancing the album out again.
As always, with Charango, Morcheeba have done everything right from a technical standpoint; what they've really missed is the soul. It's really just a boring filler until something better comes along. Hopefully that's sooner than later. 16-Sep-2002 9:27 PM