- Exquisite Corpse (Ninja Tune)
those of you not quite au fait with Surrealist parlour games,
the term 'exquisite corpse' originates from the game more
commonly known as Consequences. This involves a group of
people taking it in turns to write down part of a sentence
before folding over the top of the page, thus concealing
their contribution, and passing it on to the next person
who writes, folds the page over and so on.
end result once the page is unrolled is a stream of seemingly
unrelated words and phrases (ie 'exquisite' and 'corpse')
which you can either attempt to force some sort of profound
meaning upon or laugh at hysterically as absolute gibberish.
beat merchant Daedelus takes a similarly haphazard approach
to music, throwing seemingly disparate elements together
to create a rich stew of sound that often lacks cohesion
or logic but attempts to make skewed sense out of nonsense.
Opener Dearly Departed demonstrates this from the off as
fractured jazz noodling and random noises are overcome by
a sweet berceuse which drifts in and out of earshot while
a dawdling, fuzzy bassline adds some much needed warmth.
Doom then combines forties film strings with cha cha hip
hop drums, electric guitar and rap before Just Briefly stutters
its way to life with snippets of soul, sweeping orchestral
chords and a heel-kicking ballroom dance beat vying for
vague aural collages hang loosely together and are at times
hyperactively manic but even calmer moments like bedtime
lullaby Now And Sleep lack any great level of coherence
or direction. However, the Pacific coast-dwelling North
American with a penchant for Edwardian clothing, does create
some more lucid and, by virtue of this, more accessible
moments and they prove the most inspiring.
hyperventilating Rolf Harris-style human
beat box on the relaxing Thanatopis is joined by acoustic
guitar and Hrishikesh Hirway's gently delivered
hippy lyrics, while Sent Off / Sus Percoll starts with the
usual potpourri of samples before evolving into a mellow,
upbeat, electro buzz, forming the high point of the album.
Some of the numerous collaborative efforts also seem to
offer some reinforcements to Daedelus' armoury, most notably
the simple downtempo number Welcome Home featuring Prefuse
73 and the laidback raps of Cyne
on the sun-kissed Drops.
overall, on first listen, this is like standing midway between
two stages at a festival with sounds competing rather than
complementing each other as juxtapositions of jazz, Hollywood
string samples and deep-bassed electronic interference create
a cacophony of noise rather than clearly defined tunes.
The end result coming across like a cracked and fragmented
DJ Shadow. But with repeated airings the
opposing parts gradually begin to merge together and, like
a musical magic eye picture, the ideas slowly come into
focus the chaotic sonic mess.
Corpse is not so much a collection of tunes as musical textures,
layered tapestries of freeform noise where melody is often
made to appear accidental and seemingly incompatible sounds
try to acquaint themselves with each other. Sometimes the
best albums are those that do not quite make sense on first
listen and take time to understand and appreciate. If you
have the time and enjoy hip hop with a twisted, abstract
slant then Exquisite Corpse is an album well worth getting
to know. If not you can always gather some friends together
and get your dose of surreal fun through pen and paper instead.