Sleeping Giants

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The live/electronic downtempo-dub-funk of this Devon, England, four-piece is airy, atmospheric, and gaseous. Unfortunately, with so many fumes filling its belly, this giant is a bloated beast. Lead single "Ruby" runs a pretty field of twinkling synths and gestating chords, but the mechanical Latinism of ride cymbal and rim shot lacks any distinct punch that might give the feeling of moving forward. The same can be said for many of the other tracks, including the title cut, "Sunspots," and "Defender," all near duplicates of each other. When Bluprint does exhale, things are a bit better, with "Upfront" energized by a quick hi-hat and "Back 2 Life" forced to open up the midrange to make room for the sultry voice of Della Dunkley. But beyond this mid-album one-two punch, the tone is just too conservative unless you're Gilles Peterson or any other downtempo guru who has followed the electronic zoot suit sound of acid jazz into its logical conclusion as smooth jazz for the first generation of digital middle-agers.

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