Big Calm

CD Cover Morcheeba

Review by Darren Kerr

At first listen it's easy to dismiss London's Morcheeba as an imitation of Portishead, as yet another band jumping on the Bristol trip-hop bandwagon. But once you move past the fact that Skye Edwards' voice bears strong similarities to Beth Gibbons', you will find that is where the doppelganger stops. While Portishead have captivated the free world with their distant film noir, Morcheeba's groove is warmer and more organic, boasting a greater range of texture.

The key is Ross Godfrey's genteel display of multi-instrumentalism -- from guitars (traditional, pedal and lap steel) and bass, to organ, piano and synths (proudly declaring no factory pre-sets). And nothing sounds heavy-handed or out of place.

The opener, "The Sea," lets you know just where Morcheeba's heads are at, with Edwards drawing you in with her smooth, seductive vocal as lazy beats shuffle by underneath. "Part of the Process" shows a definite country music influence, complete with fiddle part. "Bulletproof" is a hypnotic hip-hop instrumental, while "Big Calm" is unadulterated rap, unabashed and funky. "Over and Over" is way catchy, with a string arrangement that sounds out of place on Love Come Down classic Forever Changes. "Friction" invites reggae to the hop with most pleasing results.

This is an album that early morning ocean drives were tailor-made for.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on June 16, 1998

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