Morcheeba

Charango

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Fragments of Freedom was released in 2000 and not received very well. If critics and fans would have been able to gaze into a crystal ball a couple of years in the future, they would have understood. With the benefit of hindsight, consider Fragments the prototypically disjointed transitional record that saw Morcheeba shifting focus from trip-hop to a more well-rounded mix, as Charango completes the journey that may have been bumpy, but with a sweet destination. Once again, guests are brought in to augment the band's sound; Lambchop's Kurt Wagner returns to help the electronica act with meditative lead vocals that fit into the film noir soundscape that is "What New York Couples Fight About," and Pace Won adds his rhymes to two tunes -- the title track, which harks back to the trip-hopping salad days of the group and sees the rapper taking the lead, and "Get Along," where he makes a more subtle contribution on a dreamy cut that sounds like something from the '70s if they had more modern equipment back then. However, the best is "Women Lose Weight," which sees Slick Rick sound completely old-school with Morcheeba's pop-soul groove letting his typically clever rhymes and dark comedy dominate the song. Though the appearances of outside musicians is a positive move overall, the remainder of the disc as done by the three members of the group stands up on its own; Skye Edwards' vocals are sultry as she makes all diva-like on lead track "Slow Down," the string-drenched melancholic "Otherwise," and the lazy, tropical "Sao Paulo," and overall her performance makes Charango the band's best record in some time, and for anyone not a purist, it's possibly Morcheeba's best ever.

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