Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: Vince Watson - Every Soul Needs A Guide

Vince Watson - Every Soul Needs A Guide
I was feeling a little blue this evening. I can't say exactly why, in case the secret police are reading this blog and are looking for the slightest excuse to kick my door down and silence my subversive transmissions. Let's just say I went to a psy-trance rave on Saturday, it's now Wednesday, and somewhere along the line all the happy juices in my head mysteriously vanished. Anyway, searching desperately for some way to restore a semblence of chemical balance to my brain, I resorted to gorging on an entire 125g bar of milk chocolate. By the end I felt a little sickly, somewhat excessive, like a sugar-crazed Tony Montana, but actually quite a lot happier than at the start. Little did I know at the time that I was engaging in a perfect, confectionary-based metaphor for listening to Vince Watson's new album.

Vince Watson may have the outer appearance of a bald Scotsman, but underneath that dour carapace beats the soulful heart of a black Detroit techno-jazzman. He is one of my favourite techno producers, mainly because he loves to use melody, and as a funkless whiteboy I can't get my head around techno that doesn't come with a tune. His best productions combine hard-edged Detroit sweaty-warehouse-strobes with an ear for euphoric, feel-good melodies, a combination that amounts to a more credible, Theo Parrish-friendly approximation of good trance music. Even when he's not going for the dancefloor jugular, his skills on the little black keys mean that his tunes are always eminently listenable.

Every Soul Needs A Guide is, to my knowledge, his fifth proper album and like a lot of his albums takes a more loungey and jazzy direction than the EP and singles. This is probably his most opulent work yet, resplendent in jazzy keys, double basses and cymbals. Almost every single second of the album is crammed full of feel-good melodic loveliness. After 80 minutes or so, it does start to become a little much. Occasionally there are stripped-down ambient interludes, that are probably the best tracks, simply because the modicum of restraint employed stops things from being overcooked. Without them, the album would be a pummelling, sense-numbing barrage of feel-good Detroit vibeyness.

This is where the chocolate analogy comes in. Chocolate is nice, it tastes good and almost everyone likes it, but consume too much in one go and you might come to regret your decision. Playing this album all the way through would cheer up the most miserable bastard, simply because it's easier to relent and go "Okay, okay, I'll fucking smile!" than maintain that stoney grimace of existential futility any longer. But unless you're feeling a particularly strong case of the mid-week blues, you probably don't want to be so violently uplifted. I personally wish Vince would have toned this one down a little bit. As good as it is, and as impressive and well-produced as all the music sounds, it just leaves me feeling a tiny bit queasy by the end.

Genre: Jazzy techno
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10

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