sun 14/07/2024

CD: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce

CD: Beyond The Wizards Sleeve - The Soft Bounce

Long-awaited, psyched out debut from DJ-producer duo is an entertaining ride

Featuring real instruments and that

The first I heard of Beyond the Wizards Sleeve was eight whole years ago. It was a tune called “Winter in June” and was a Lemon Jelly-meets-The Orb-style cosmic noodle with the added, and memorable, benefit of long-deceased BBC gardener Percy Thrower rambling over the top. It was exquisitely rustic English electronic weirdness.

From their Viz-on-LSD name onwards, BTWS seemed to be just a passing fancy for Erol Alkan and Richard Norris, a couple of thoroughly imaginative DJ-producers with their fingers in multifarious musical pies, and it seemed unlikely they’d do much more with it.

And so it proved. There was a compilation of all their strange, floaty oddments, and then not much else. Until now. Placing The Soft Bounce on the sound system, however, those expecting to waft away on a pastoral cyber-mescaline breeze are in for a surprise. BTWS have developed into a band with actual songs! The closest comparison, and it’s a good one, is Amorphous Androgynous, the acid-fried Future Sound of London side-project which also blossomed into a proper band, replete with guitars and retro Sixties/Seventies tendencies, just like BTWS boast here.

The album opens with the motorik groove of “Delicious Light” but this is no Krautrock tribute, for the metronomic drums are balanced by a sweet angel chorus, and by the time we reach the funky “Creation”, it’s as if long-defunct easy listening kingpins, the Mike Sammes Singers, are having it out with Finnish freak-popsters, Pepe Deluxé. As the album goes on, with guest vocals from Mystery Jets' Blaine Harrison and others, it moves slowly away from songs, although it peaks with the utterly Sixties, string-swathed, femme-fronted “Door to Tomorrow” (“She opens the door to tomorrow/Through scented fields I did follow”!), which even repeatedly mentions “Emily”, as is de rigeur in this area.

Instead, the latter half is dominated by the liturgical washes of “Tomorrow, Forever”, the percussive jam of the title track, and a Brian Auger-esque organ outing called “Finally First”, before concluding with a psyched out voice-over piece (“Suddenly I was the great eye and I saw everything there is to see”). Almost a decade after they began, Beyond the Wizards Sleeve have come up with a debut album that has lots going on, songs that entertain and the sense of a job well done.

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