say you're a French electronic trio, right?
you come out with an album in 2002 that's sort of a dance-downtempo hybrid, fusing (somewhat ineptly) some very rudimentary dance grooves with an ambient fog to result in something that's half snooze and half groove. but, surprisingly enough, people are snoozing at the dance tracks like 'Genetic World,' its vocoded vocals and--what were you thinking?--samples of chirping crickets laughable, not the downtempo ones. in fact, you score a small hit with 'Breathe,' a song which carries the cool spirit of a jazz bar but the rhythm of modern electronic music. you get featured on a few soundtracks. your name gets dropped in the pages of XLR8R and other rags. but before you can finish off your celebratory croque monsieur, you find that your limelight is gone. wha? how? Simple Things was just released, which thusly resuscitated interest in Moon Safari, which thusly left Genetic World out of the party. "Zut Alors!" you utter.
but you fare well in 2005, with Zero 7 producing a passable second album, When It Falls, and Air's Talkie Walkie being lauded for not being a Moon Safari appendage. you take a lesson from 'Breathe's' success and carve an album built from the same ingredients: soft drumming, susurrous vocals, and sundry, lightly distorted unknowables. Angel Milk emerges and you're proud of your boy, for it plays strictly in the downtempo stream, one forgotten after The K & D Sessions and barely breathing after the Om Lounge and Waveform compilations. "Oui Oui! We shall conquer this unused trove of lax meters, ambiguous messages, and hackneyed emotion!"
but wait, wait, what's wrong now? well, it seems that in your attempt to flesh out a forgotten electronic sub-genre, you only end up trying to animate a dead one. you enlist Mau to rap over some tracks and add a male edge to the predominantly female-fronted album. yet on 'Last Train to Forever' he performs sluggishly, almost as if rhyming over a distorted beat was a novelty, or Bristol, England was the most happening place on the planet, or because he heard Blue Lines the night before. for 'Hollywood on My Toothpaste' he drops into a bit of a sinister cadence, turning slightly druggy, slightly muggy, and very Tricky, accompanied by a floating guitar sample.
the strongest performance comes from Angela McCluskey, whose strong timbre is reinforced by the horns and strings of 'Love's Almighty,' perhaps the best song on all of Angel Milk. some will compare the structure--she breaks off the song at one point and says, "ok, start it again" to redoubled horns--to Bjork's "It's Oh So Quiet," but that's only a superficial observation. yet when they're not trying to bring back Trip-Hop, Telepopmusik are trying to at least bring back 'Breathe.' opener 'Love Comes Calling' and lead single 'Into Everything' both have the same M.O.: a hushed orchestral or ambient score for the bridge that opens into a reticent 6/8 pattern and a female vocalist whose voice is facile. the problem is that you can't find an original backbone to most of the album.
so you close it out on '15 Minutes,' another pretentious 'enjoy the silence' in-joke that adds little to an already adulterated assemblage. or maybe it's supposed to allow the listener to take a breather from the overwhelming experience, but should the experience actually, you know, overwhelm? you tried your damnedest, and we appreciate that, we do. the album art is nice, the videos you put out are interesting, and your compositions really aren't half bad. but you still have a long way before you escape the long shadows under which you create your work.
Release date: June 21, 2005
Rating: 5.4 / 10
© Copyright 1998-2005 RockMusicReview.com. All Rights Reserved.