Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Neo-Psychedelia
When eminent Bristol tricksters Malachai wrapped up their promotional campaign for 2011's Return to the Ugly Side, it was unclear whether or not the duo would be heard from again. Members Gee Ealey and Scott Hendy drifted apart as bands frequently do, and it took a chance meeting several years later to reignite interest in adding another chapter to their story. What is now deemed the third and final installment in their "Ugly" trilogy, 2014's Beyond Ugly revisits Malachai's vivid world of retro-sonic pastiche and dark, urban storytelling.
Simian-masked scamps Malachai return with their third (and possibly final) ‘ugly’ themed instalment by Gee Easy (vocals) and DJ Scott Hendy (the rest) after 2009’s Ugly Side Of Love and 2011’s Return To The Ugly Side. Like those other musical magpies The Beta Band and Kasabian (whose Serge Pizzorno features here), Malachai’s previous works have demonstrated a thing or two about audio plunderings, to pick out the shiniest parts and reassemble into something energised, dusted off and undeniably their own. Building on their template of experimental electronic samples mixed with psych pop, Beyond Ugly doesn’t see a massive change in style from their wayward ‘looseness’ so much as a developing of their multi-faceted palette.
Malachai – Beyond Ugly (Domino)Protégés and Bristol mates of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Malachai (née Malakai when first added to Barrow’s Invada label) dropped out of another dimension with their 2009 debut, Ugly Side of Love, a Frankenstein forged from disparate samples in a magical studio (i. e. “Warriors”, the opener, recreates Hendrix tones on guitar, Keith Moon on kit and Jack Bruce on voice/bass, all wrapped up in a dusty production collage and featuring an eerie dialog snippet from the movie of the same name).
These days, the ‘Bristol Sound’ is, on the whole, a relic of the past. Trip-hop’s birthplace is still a bustling hub of cultural exports, but that particular trend is on life support. The legends of the style remain mostly intact – Massive Attack and Portishead are alive and well – but it’s fallen out of favour with the unwashed masses since it’s heyday in the ’90s and very early ’00s.