Reviewing works by people you know personally is both joyful and difficult. Joyful, because it makes me happy that I actually have a direct connection with such talented people and can chat to them online and say “what’s up” without submitting an official request first. Difficult, because what if I don’t like their new release? I have no problem ripping Tricky or Morcheeba a new one, but the thought of writing a review that the record’s creator is going to actually read makes me want to throw up a little. No pressure, right? Luckily, I wasn’t lying when I said “talented” people. The only way new release by UCHU (aka Pavel Burylichev, whom I FEA(U)TURED a little while ago) would make you want to throw up would be from dancing to it right after eating a heavy dinner. So, here’s the warning: Shamen Funk will make you want to shake your curvy parts. Even if you’re listening to it by yourself. And even if you don’t have any curvy parts. Maybe it’s even better if you’re listening to it by yourself, because the kind of moves the album will make you produce will not be likely appreciated by a regular club-goer. Unless the club is in the depth of Amazon Rainforest. Yes, as the cover suggests, it’s very “tribal”. Or “ethnic”, whatever you wanna call it. But I put it all in quotation marks, because saying that would just shove Shamen Funk into this vast swamp of “world music” and deprive it of the “funk” part. Shamen Funk is world music, but it’s UCHU‘s own world, where craziness comes from originality rather than from creative sample usage. It is not trip-hop in the conventional sense. It’s hardly even “-hop” at all. But it definitely is a trip. Which begins with the turn into the “Wrong Direction” – the opening track couldn’t have had a more fitting name on many levels. For some listeners it will be a realization that they did, in fact, make a wrong turn on their journey of searching for trendy electronica. And I can see some of them making rapid U-turns with expressions of fear and disgust, trying to get back to the road more traveled. But I can see many who will keep going into the “Wrong Direction”. And if they reach the “Wild Place” (title of the second track), they will stay. In my FEA(U)TURE I mentioned that UCHU‘s music reminds me of 90’s techno. I keep coming back to this thought while listening to Shamen Funk. No, it doesn’t follow any traditions or tries to copy any of the techno dinosaurs. The similarities go way beyond that, and they lay in that adventurous and exploratory spirit of the music, in the intention of creating a deep complex music experience rather than a hit, a pleasant but forgettable internet sensation, – at the same time refraining from excessive experimentation and keeping the overall listening process very enjoyable. The album is massive though. You won’t get tired from listening to it, but it’s… pervasiveness might make your head spin a little. I won’t even go into describing each individual track. Partly because it’s better to consume the record as a whole, partly because each and every track is (just like the title to one of them) “The Universe In A Nutshell”. If you are familiar with UCHU‘s work, you know that the technical side is superb. The sound is crisp and every single instrument and sample (of which there aren’t too many, and that makes them way more effective) is in its right place. A very interesting work, intense and soothing, thoughtful and thought-provoking, compact and limitless, just like Universe itself.
Release page at Spaceradio.ru, where you can listen to short previews of each track and purchase the album (which you should totally do).
R.I.Y.L. Leftfield, early Orbital, ancient artifacts
personal favs: “Particles”, “The Universe In A Nutshell”, “Wrong Direction”