Saturday, 25 August 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #288 - Jessie Ware, "Devotion"

London doesn't seem to labour under the same weighty musical heritage as Manchester does. Or rather, there is a roots-up feel to something that maybe grew up from the pirate radio and sound systems that continues to have a more benign influence over current music. Manchester is still in under the blackout curtain of Oasis and post-punk and acid house/rock crossover influences that petered out too long ago. Tony Wilson may have said Manchester kids had the best record collections, but they haven't contributed nearly enough to other people's in the last twenty years for a self-fancied Musical Capital of Britain.

But this music is smooth and silky and could sit in some mid-range R&B playlist but also quite comfortably on that of a borderline indie would-be musonaut like myself. A continuum of Soul II Soul and Sade and The XX and contemplative yet celebratory mood music. I get a slight whiff of Brit School, but I feel there's enough space in the music for me to ignore it. And there's a healthy dose of lysergic acid tweak that knocks the basslines slightly out of tune and plays wit the noises in the corner of my eyes.

I was watching Channel 4's How Clubbing Changed The World last night and it got me thinking how the mass consumption of Ecstasy of variable quality but similar intent by a couple of generations has fundamentally shifted British interaction with emotion and music. This is an album that moves around into a cloud of post-E club culture - "110%" particularly breathes out this gaseous goodtime, touchy-feely vibe. It slinks about in the cloud of its own making. But there is a dark patch somewhere in the cloud, a melancholic shade that gives it depth.

There is a horrific coda to this album. Two bonus acoustic tracks that contain all that is strained and terrible about music based around a "voice". X Factor emotion devoid of any meaningful musical context. Almost did enough to ruin the album for me. But the production elsewhere is so excellent that I just skip back to the beginning and go again.

Rating: Warm MDMA Continuum out of Gaseous Dark Patch

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