Ben Gunning Massive Love

Ben Gunning Massive Love
8
Since the sad demise of the criminally underrated Local Rabbits in 2001, co-frontmen Peter Elkas and Ben Gunning have followed their muses in opposite directions. Elkas has released three records of soft rocking neo-soul; Gunning has gone in an arguably less accessible funk/pop/jazz/R&B direction on two enigmatic albums (2005's Beigy Blur and 2010's Mal de Mer). Massive Love is Gunning's third solo effort, and his finest, as it succeeds in tempering the experimental leanings of his solo career with some slightly more melodic material, a mix of Local Rabbits, Prince and Steely Dan.
 
Gunning's falsetto is as taut and shrill as ever, and he wields it like a weapon on shimmering, funky R&B tracks like "Live in Love" and album highlight (and title track) "Massive Love." He's always been a funny and insightful lyricist, but the lyrics here are somewhat cryptic (someone please help me figure out what "Ogling Rainbows" is about). Love, technology and spirituality are all recurring topics, but the words are largely overwhelmed by the dense instrumentation throughout Massive Love's nine sprawling tracks. Gunning's band, featuring members of the Toronto group DIANA amongst other notables, play with a vengeance.
 
The record is pleasantly weird and packed with energy from start to finish; in fact, there's so much going on here that, as a whole, Massive Love can be a bit of an exhausting listen. Still, I can safely say that I haven't heard another record that sounds quite like this before. Gunning is a singular talent, and those looking for something truly different will be rewarded by showing Massive Love some attention. (Independent)