I have always been a big fan of unusual funky trance, while not being a big connaisseur of it. I remember digging the first Loopus album, but not being blown away by it. It is the recent compilation Ultrapop that put loopus and the label in the spotlight for me. So, needless to say, I was looking forward to this while having absolutely no idea what to expect.
Also, I have read that this CD makes heavy use of covers of eighties songs, which I was not sure what to make of, since I personally find that the eighties are one of the worst decades musically. The upside is that I am not overly familiar with the originals these are covers of, so cannot be influenced by preexisting likes or dislikes.
Well, let’s go for a track by track overview.
1. First thing that hits us is a funk riff with a beat not lagging far behind. Blow instruments of some kind (trumpets?) make their appearance as well, all making for some very fun listening as the album kicks off. Reminds me of the circus for some reason, but with the clowns wearing serious expressions on their faces. The layers definitely take their time to develop, which I am usually a fan of, giving one’s ears time to get used to the music. By the 3rd minute mark, it has certainly picked up already, and the feet cannot be stopped from tapping. The break at 4 minutes is strange, but when the beat comes back in, it is impossible not to smile, especially with that ribbit ribbit screaming going on. Even the sample admits that the track is “hoho, very funny”. Basically, this is a great song to dance to, lots of fun, very light. This is a musician not taking himself very seriously.
2. Right off the bat, this has more psychedelia going for it. And some great guitar to boot, without forgetting the lewd (?) lyrics. Once again, we are treated to a “progressive” piece, in the sense that there is a very visible progression in the evolution of the track, maybe even a bit to slow of an evolution, because I cannot wait for an explosion to occur. I guess it will be worth the wait. If Finland became techy all of a sudden, and started drinking less, this would be the result I guess. All in all, this is not so great imo, I like the melodies and instruments surrounding the main beat, but I think that that beat wants too much attention, and it is not all that interesting, and a bit monotone. The overall intensity of the piece could use more variation too. I fear this might become a track to skip once in a while as the album is playing.
3. A hypnotic breakbeatsy atmosphere greets us at the beginning here, with a strong trance bassline showing up soon enough though. This would be a perfect car chase soundtrack, with little mishaps going on during the chase. Definitely the heaviest track on this album, maybe due to the fact that it was not originally written by Loopus. Almost like a slowed down very early “dark” trance piece, but without that in-your-face forced feeling. This one is not so great for home listening either, but I am sure that dropped at the right time, it would cause havoc on the dancefloor, and driving to it was a shitload of fun too, just make sure you’re wearing your seatbelt. Definitely more varied than the previous one too as far as I am concerned.
4. Wow, almost had to check that this was loopus indeed and not an early 21st century Digital Structures record. Starts off very minimal; me likey. Very cool, bigwigesque. This is a track that some might hate, and others will dig like hell. So far, I have found myself in the latter category. Finally, it feels like loopus is exploring his potential to create funky, fun, and yet still very interesting music. The last 2 minutes especially cannot help but make the whole dancefloor smile from ear to ear. Great.
5. Let me start by saying that this is certainly my favourite track of the album. Very original. Here, a bingo hall is quickly transformed into a chaotic disco. Lots of weird sounds that seem like they might be out of place, but I feel that they are all perfectly placed right where needed. The bassline keeps one on one’s toes throughout the duration. Those funky guitar riffs add a lot of flavour. And when by the end of the third minute, that driving relentless beat starts up, butt is a-shaking. This is pump-yo-fist-in-the-air music, whether yoyr fist be organic or mechanical. This is that noontime track I was looking for to complement sunshine and psychedelic substances. The fact that there are so many breaks only adds to the excitement for me. Not perfect, but damn close.
6. We are back to minimal psychedelic trance in funky express. Obviously layers are continually added, and the funk is built onto the minimal structure piece by piece. I appreciate what loopus tried to create here, but fear that it has been done better. This is either very complex or simply boring, only a couple of years will tell. Actually, for the most part, I would not even call this very funky, apart from the annoying “funky disco” sample.
7. woohoo, liftoff. Another driving track. A bit more madness here than most of the rest of the album. Now, this is funk. As you can see, the potential of this piece here has reduced me to a babbling three-word sentence monkey. I love it. Extremely mind-altering music with lots of early psychedelia influences (maybe it’s just me, but I feel a slight dose of jefferson airplane going disco here), just electronica style. Groovy, baby, yeah. This would work great on any dancefloor imho. Another really fun, dancefloor oriented track.
8. Hmm, is that the sound of Milan’s traffic? Well, we are not left wondering for a long time, as those sounds are overtaken by more digital ones. This is one of the slowest pieces on the album, but it feels harder than a lot of the others. Lots of crashing pots and pans over the bassline, one that stays diverse enough throughout the whole track. It also has a very distinctive goa feel to it. This is pretty creative, but I think it is just a bit too creative, should have kept it simpler. This will probably not work on the dancefloor, as it has that vibe-breaking potential, taking people out of their trance. Nor is this really homelistening material either. This could have been something very good with loads of variety, influences from pretty much everything, but once again, I think it is overdone. Still enjoyable though.
9. This is another one of my favourites here. What I consider the most intelligent track here. Love that sinthy feel. Best part of the eighties, warped into the third millenium. Yes, sometimes, there are noises that somewhat random and could have been avoided, but I am too much of a fan of simplicity. Now, I do not know that Bowie song all that well, but I am sure I have heard it before, and I see no evident resemblance. Not that much to say here, great calm groovy even sexy song. My style. Let’s dance.
So, is this what I expected of this album? No. Is it better or worse? Well, it is different. It is very good. Very original. The first listen had me extremely excited and almost jumping out of my seat on the bus. I have to admit that after about 2 weeks of listening to it, I have grown a bit blaze to it. Either, I have listened to it too much, or it might not age that gracefully.
Does loopus reinvent the wheel here? No. Does he take elements that almost noone else uses? Yes.
This is not an essential psytrance buy. Only if you are a fan of this specific genre. But then again, there are what, 5 albums a decade in this specific genre?
Also, I would say that the album is not that consistent. Yes, there are some corkers, like 5 and 9, and some other extremely enjoyable songs. But I feel that there are some letdowns as well; 2 and 6 come to mind right away.
The flow is mostly very good, but this is far from a concept album. Tracks that fit very well with each other, but there is not really a story told here. Not that I think there is supposed to be one.
Basically, if you’re looking for deep emotional music, this is not for you.
If you are looking for fun, fun, and more fun, without any pretentiousness, and with a considerable amount of originality, this is for you.
Oh yeah, the artwork. All I have to say is “Fear and Loathing in Arizona”.
01. 07’27” Doofy Duck (feat. Ritchie Mantrix) [140 bpm]
02. 08’18” Controversy [142 bpm]
03. 08’52” Dreamschwartz (rmx for Visnudata) [142 bpm]
04. 08’05” YSD [140 bpm]
05. 08’23” Fat Old Ladies (feat. Paul Kearney) [136 bpm]
06. 08’22” Funky Express [138 bpm]
07. 07’08” Feel Again [136 bpm]
08. 07’31” Rockit [135 bpm]
09. 07’37” Lets Dance [134 bpm]