Paul White

Paul White and the Purple Brain

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With this album, U.K. producer Paul White has taken the concept of the remix to what is probably its logical conclusion. Using the music of a fairly obscure 1990s Swedish psych rock artist named S.T. Mikael as its basis, Paul White and the Purple Brain takes that music, shatters and shreds it into fragments, and then fastens the little pieces onto a grid of rhythms -- sometimes funky, sometimes lurchingly clumsy, sometimes metronomically regular. At its best, the experiment succeeds by combining nostalgic musical affection with wry whimsy, as on the sitar-laden "Dance Scene" or the beautiful and straightforward "My Guitar Whales" (which evokes African Head Charge in its use of field recorded samples) or the Middle Eastern ambience of "Bom Bom" (which, strangely enough, evokes Muslimgauze at his most inscrutably exotic). At other times, you get the impression that White simply took a very large number of cool sounds and decided to throw them in a pile, and then use some kind of rhythmic snap-to-grid function to force them into structural coherence: the album-opening "Gentle Freak" comes across that way, as does the rather claustrophobic "Ancient Treasure." And once in a while, the chaos and imbalance produce something decidedly special: "Fly with Me" is both unnerving and wonderful, with its unidentifiable background noises, chopped-up vocal samples, and zombies-at-the-high-school-dance rhythmic stagger. This is far from a perfect album, but it's also very far from boring and it errs on the side of inspiration as often as not.

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