Morcheeba


(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Who Can You Trust , 6/10
Big Calm , 6/10
Fragments Of Freedom, 5/10
Charango , 5/10
The Antidote (2005), 5/10
Dive Deep (2008), 4/10
Blood Like Lemonade (2010), 4/10
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Morcheeba e` il gruppo di Skye Edwards, chanteuse sensuale che canta ballate atmosferiche accompagnata dai fratelli Paul Godfrey alle percussioni e Ross Godfrey alla chitarra e alle tastiere. L'idea di Who Can You Trust (China, 1996) e` sempre quella inventata dai Cowboy Junkies una generazione prima, riveduta e corretta dai Portishead: un soffice trip-hop che mescola pop, dub e folk. Le canzoni si assomigliano tutte, dall'iniziale Moog Island all'hit Trigger Hippie, dalla sonnolenta Never An Easy Way alla fatale Almost Done. Le sfumature sono davvero sfumature: un minimo piu` funky e sperimentale Tape Loop, lievemente reggae e jazz Small Town, classicheggiante Col (quartetto d'archi, tromba, corno), sinistra e marziale Howling, quasi Kate Bush. La lunga title-track (nove minuti) e` un lento jamming di soft-jazz che batte il tempo in stile dub mentre la cantante esercita il suo (patetito) scat. Ci vuole soprattutto pazienza per ascoltare questo disco fino alla fine.

Morcheeba is the combo of Skye Edwards, sensual chanteuse who sings atmospheric ballads accompanied by brothers Paul Godfrey (percussions) and Ross Godfrey (guitar, keyboards). The idea behind Who Can You Trust (China, 1996) is still the one invented a generation earlier by the Cowboy Junkies, albeit revisited and adapted to the era of Portishead: a mellow trip-hop that mixes pop, dub and folk.
All the songs sound the same, from the opening Moog Island to the hit Trigger Hippie, from the sleepy Never An Easy Way to the fatal Almost Done. Shades are truly just shades: a tad funkier and experimental Tape Loop, a bit reggae and jazz Small Town, orchestral Col (string quartet, trumpet, horn), sinister and martial Howling (almost Kate Bush). The lengthy title-track (nine minutes) is a slow, soft-jazz jamming over a dub beat while the singer rehearses her naive scat. Patience is what you really need to listen this album from start to end.
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Big Calm (China, 1998) is a much more personal work. By reducing the doses of dance music and enhancing the psychedelic stance, the Godfrey brothers find their true voice and somehow help afro-British singer Skye Edwards mature in turn as a suave soul-jazz vocalist. She shines in the two chamber ballads: The Sea, her dreamy whisper floating over a hypnotic shuffle, surrounded by majestic strings and contrasted by a funky guitar, and Fear And Love, a cello and an acoustic guitar driving her smooth falsetto into the pathos of a string orchestra and into the romantic wail of a trumpet. The orchestral Morcheeba (whose archetype was Col) is an ambitious side-project of the trip-hopping Morcheeba that often steals the show.
In general, the music on this album is less monotonous. The reggae-tinged Friction, the latin-tinged Let Me See, and the country-tinged Over & Over provide a much broader palette to work with. And a bit of life.
On the other hand, Trigger Hippie's scratching orgy continues with Bullet Proof and Shoulder Holster, the former an instrumental rap-funk-jazz workout set against a buzzing noise and quirky vocal sounds, the latter a singalong for children set to an Indian raga with pounding percussion. The scratching is ugly and violent, comes in waves, doubles the intensity of the rhythm, a rhythm that, in both tracks, is the most forceful of the album.
Only the languid ballads detract from the project. Since the whole idea is to elaborate on a simple, slow melody by piling up sonic stereotypes of modern dance genres, the trio would be better served by staying away from naked ballads.
No doubt Skye Edwards is a terrific singer and the band can still concoct infectious refrains. However, ultimately, what Morcheeba does on Fragments Of Freedom (Sire, 2000) is to merge hip hop and rhythm and blues in a modern version of the traditional soul-pop ballad. Slightly more technological, but pretty much the same (boring) kitsch that has been around in easy listening. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day, World Looking In, Let It Go sound like 1970s covers.

Charango (Reprise, 2002) is even lighter and simpler, with a couple of radio-friendly tunes (Women Lose Weight, Slow Down) and a lot of undistinguished filler. The "acoustic" The Antidote (Echo, 2005), featuring new vocalist Daisy Martey instead of Skye Edwards, rehashes old cliches, rarely demonstrating any reason why they should be rehashed. Ten Men is the standout, the exception to the rule, albeit a notable exception.

Dive Deep (2008) used a cast of vocalists and rappers, and veered towards the adult ballad.

Original vocalist Skye Edwards was not enough to redeem Blood Like Lemonade (2010) from its uniform mediocrity.

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