Puracane

Things You Should Leave Alone

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    8
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In its recorded incarnation, the project known as Puracane is a collaborative effort between composer/programmer David Biegel and singer/lyricist Ali Rogers. Although the duo's most obvious stylistic touchstone is British trip-hop (Rogers has worked with Tricky among others), the uniqueness of Puracane's sound also has a lot to do with plain old back-beatin' rock and R&B grooves. The rhythms have a slowly chugging insistence, which perfectly fits the songs' lazy Sunday afternoon feel. The beats are less manic than is typical of the genre, and work well with the traditional song structures. The record also performs a rare feat in the world of electronica in that it gives the impression of some sort of groovin' computer band, rather than a single mad professor huddled over his Mac (interestingly enough, Puracane actually performs live, sans Biegel, as a standard guitar/bass/drums rock group). This feeling is reinforced by the addition of Susan Ellinger's acoustic piano and some choice guitar textures from ex-Psychedelic Furs axeman Knox Chandler. Biegel's compositions are sparse and moody throughout, and Rogers' supple alto is a perfect foil. On first listen, her vocal style calls Bjork to mind, but Rogers' working class English drawl adds a nice grittiness to the proceedings. Though the execution is subtle, embracing the accent somehow simultaneously manages to reinforce the record's sense of pathos and provide a '76 era Paul Weller kind of punk toughness. Also, Rogers wisely refrains from employing the annoying little-girl-having-a-tantrum shrieks and wails so favored by her Icelandic predecessor, with eminently soulful and sexy results. Overall, Things You Should Leave Alone succeeds on many fronts; the album is everything a good trip-hop album should be (moody, mysterious, hip, and funky), but, by using tried and true pop formulas and beats with a distinctly human element, also manages to be exceptionally accessible.

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