Album Review: Kris Menace / ‘Features’ (Compuphonic)



“A summer spellbinder to warm you until winter” was Menace 2012’s stunner Electric Horizon — now in Jack Frost’s icy grip, Features follows up with 12 vocal collaborations. Whereas his first act showed a subtlety of touch when tenderising basic raw materials and rhythms close to the 80s, here he shows he can play percentages and tow the line rather more.

Early indications are that KM has picked up where he left off with Unai’s “Lone Runner”. The vocal performances are tailor-made rather than out-and-out breathtaking — this is an album featuring Miss Kittin (the Italo-styled “Hide”), Robert Owens and Romanthony, so it’s not short on firepower, but the neat vocal house pairings carry little to startle ears. The synth-pop references take tracks onto the edge of ad executive heaven, verging on EDM responsibility that’s a bit too ‘nice.’ The slo-mo crystallisation of “Golden Ratio” featuring Simon Lord and “Eye Opener” with Xavier Naidoo offer ways out, while still pretty conformist, shimmery yet pre-meditated. If “Love is Everywhere” was left instrumental, it would probably fit into the previous set perfectly. A gothic/psychopathic subtext to “Voodoo Dilate” shows its icicles, and a little bit of grit returns with Owens’ higher power dominance of “Trusting Me.”

Whereas Menace repeatedly let Electric Horizon beguile by itself, the vocals forcing the issue take the mystery out of the situation, and, only by a thin margin, make Features less charming.

File under: Love on Laserdisc, Lifelike, Keenhouse

Album Review: Ralf GUM / ‘Never Leaves You’ (GOGO Music)


They should use Ralf GUM as a spokesman for positive thinking, taking the place of Bobby McFerrin for a new “Don’t Worry Be Happy” campaign. The German replays his house paradise of Uniting Music with effortless elegance. If you like your house a little more ‘uptight,’ GUM will seem like the anti-DJ. If you want class and respecting of values that reaffirm faith, GUM is king of a castle he’s built with his own bejewelled bucket and spade, glossing everything from pianos to percussion to bass to brass to vocals with sunny grace and Latin schmoozing.

Put Never Leaves You in a scrum of soulful funky house and it’ll struggle to break from the pack. It only knows one direction, just keeping its head above the watery in places (“Burning Star”), regardless of the calibre of assisting vocalists Robert Owens, Soul II Soul’s Caron Wheeler (on the marginally more uppity “So Good”) and Kenny Bobien. Know the man’s standards and what you want on a hot flute-clinking day and you’ll be quickly eyeing your position by the pool, your rump shaking politely amidst respectful flirtations (Jaidene Veda’s “Do It For Love” is all about private hideaways and Mediterranean luxury). You can absolve GUM from clichés when his sonic sunscreen begins working into crisping skin, because it’s the easiest of club music to shape your schedule around.
File under: Reel People, Tone Control, Raw Artistic Soul