(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, January 1, 2010

CD review - Disco Biscuits, Planet Anthem (2010)

The Disco Biscuits have spent the last decade and a half evolving their own style of trance fusion music. Infusing electronica elements into free form, jam oriented grooves, their live shows are a celebration of psycho-social ritual. They've been releasing bits of their upcoming album, Planet Anthem (due Feb 2010), as EPs. This has been touted as a shift in sound for the band, incorporating more hip hop beats into their sound. It actually goes further than that. As a whole, there's a pervasive club-scene, pop-friendly mindset, which is a bit new. But the core sound of the Biscuits is still strong, making Planet Anthem yet another trippy mind groove of a disc for their catalog. The new elements add a progressive rock feel to the proceedings.

On Time, Loose Change, and Konkrete were all released on the On Time EP, giving their fans a taste. On Time showcases the club beat element they've integrated into their sound, with it's throbbing, lock step beat and over processed vocals. Loose Change layers an electronica groove under a steady rock beat. Lyrically, it's largely a reworking of Pink Floyd's Money without being a cover. The psychedelic lead near the end incorporates some horribly abused guitar sounds before dropping back to a cleaner sound. Konkrete is fuses new and old for the band: a gamelan sound leads into a repeated guitar figure and a sort of MC 900 Foot Jesus vocal. This song's a treat with layers of bass, vocals, synth washes, scratching, and distorted guitar.

The EP songs were a good taste, but Planet Anthem has a lot more to offer. Rain Song is one of my favorites, starting out with a thoughtful intro of echoed keys before the beat kicks in. This wouldn't be out of place on a Massive Attack disc, with moody electronica, a strong vocal, and a tight beat. The dynamic flow makes this work. Tension builds and ebbs, preserving a balance. This one will be great to hear live.

Another favorite is The City. It's got a nice R&B groove with hints of disco. The vocals are half spoken, but the lyrics are cool:
Well, I thought I knew the future of the mountains in my range
If the future teaches anything, the past can never change
The lyrical idea is smooth: seeing the city's buildings as mountains and a contrast between connection to a place and its people with the distance that separates the people in the city.

Grab Planet Anthem when it comes out and kick back to the jams with a glass of Duchesse de Bourgogne. The Disco Biscuits will also be playing at the Fox Theater (Boulder CO) at the end of the month, giving us a chance to hear some of this material live. See you there!

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