Beyond The Wizards Sleeve
Trip. A simple arrangement of four letters that has many associations: a trip to the seaside, a drug trip (and so a journey into the unknown), a trip is to suddenly fall. “The Soft Bounce” is a trip album in the widest sense: containing nearly 45 minutes of carefully programmed music, it sets off into to the unknown, it contains pleasure and pain, doubt and transcendence, and it ends somewhere that is different from where you started.
Beginning with expansive synth washes and “Love To Love You Baby”-style oohs, “Delicious Light” is immediately uplifting: we’re off on a switchback journey that will pass from light through darkness and confusion and pain to transcendence and acceptance. Darkness of a sort is forged in explosive motion (“Iron Age”) before passing through sunshine pop (“Creation”), first wave UK psych (“Door To Tomorrow” with its invocation of Emily, beloved of both the Pink Floyd and the Picadilly Line), and the blissful Balearic emotion of “Diagram Girl”. This passes into the American Gothic of “Black Crow” - that traditional avian harbinger of doom - and then we’re down the rabbit hole.
“Tomorrow, Forever” begins in the sound of nothingness and slowly unfolds into beatless cloud reveries that are at once solemn and hopeful. Weightless, blown with the wind, you come down to earth with the skipping afro beat of “The Soft Bounce”: a soft female voice pleads for connection, but she is almost swamped by the stinging, shocking guitar reverb. The positive moods of “Finally First” and “Triumph” put everything back together before the all-out acid assault of “Third Mynd”: from life to death to rebirth, ‘you throw the sticks up in the air, and they come down in a different pattern’.
Is it the history of human kind or a personal, individual odyssey? With guest appearances from Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets), Euros Childs (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci), Jane Weaver, Holly Miranda and Hannah Peel, Erol Alkan and Richard Norris have constructed an album that is both highly enjoyable and on a deeper level, perceptual and psychological. Growth is necessary, as is adaptation to change: neither are achieved easily or without some kind of sacrifice. Operating on a level that can be verbal but is more often non-verbal, music can ease that passage.