Soundscape UK

Surreal Thing

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On their sophomore release Soundscape UK are still interested in combining acid and smooth jazz but they notch up the smooth considerably, which often drowns out the more interesting elements in their music. This may not be surprising considering that the band's debut housed a surprise smooth jazz radio hit with "Morning Song" so they were able to see which course the public was responding to. Plus, in many ways acid jazz is really just instrumental music for people who don't want to admit that they like smooth jazz. The accent on each supposedly divergent style is on repetitive beats, deep grooves and catchy jazz riffs and Surreal Thing has those in spades. But most of the album cuts also features a strong -- and rather faceless -- smooth jazz sax sound that smothers the music and it's this element that really marked the duo's transitional focus. This is unfortunate because group member Mick Talbot is a strong keyboard player so it's surprising how little solo space he takes (though the soul jazz influenced guitarist makes the most of his slots). The tracks that work best don't feature the saxophone at all and are in the retro-futurist acid jazz style. Numbers such as "Tea Pot", "Three Thirty Nine" and the title track all feature a muted trumpet over break beats and prove that Soundscape UK know how to please fans of both acid and smooth jazz when they want to.

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