Orchestra of Spheres

Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music

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There are so many elements at work in Orchestra of Spheres' brand of "future funk" music that it would seem an ambiguous wash if it weren't so carefully calculated and specifically articulated. On their sophomore full-length, OOS' vibe is more rhythmically complex than on 2011's Nonagonic Now, and their studio approach is slicker, to boot. As a result, some of the former recording's shambolic spontaneity has been covered over by an increasing studio savvy -- not always a bad thing. Opener "Aby" uses rolling tom-tom breaks blasted through a megaphone, female vocals, layered percussion, and noise to create a chant-like calling-of-the-tribes vibe, but it's too clipped to induce it. In the next cut, "Electric Company," the trance-inducing groove is both a process and a goal. A skillful yet seemingly ragged blanket of squiggly synths inside a field of criss-crossing African, South American, and funk rhythms, chanted vocals, wah-wah guitar, and splattery percussion goes straight to the belly bone. On "Numbers," the rhythms clash and clatter on the surface but are very strategically interlocked underneath. The male and female chants drone on in the foreground, emotionlessly undermining the groove -- it feels like a hippie version of Tom Tom Club without the warmth or cleverness. "Moro Con" is cumbia and carnival music filtered through prog rock; it's among the most provocative things here, and it works. The driving, bassy synth and retro '80s drum machines in "Kairo," along with vocoders and clattering, staggered handclaps, are playful and engaged, offering a kinetic, inviting spontaneity. "Smash Hits #1," despite its ridiculous title, is a killer track thanks to a searing, animated, Malian blues guitar vamp, a furiously overdriven bassline, electric gamelan, and a kalimba that collides head on with a drum kit. (Think Congotronics-meets-Lobi Traore-meets-Sunburned Hand of the Man.) There is plenty of energy on Vibration Animal Sex Brain Music, but as a whole, this feels more like a fragmented thought processes firing rather than a holisitc work that reflects either keen musical or raw libidinal instinct.

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