Flanger Spirituals

Esteemed electronicists Uwe Schmidtt and Bernt Friedmann have built their careers on a series of left turns, but this is the leftist one yet. Spirituals is the absolute polar opposite to their last album on Ninja Tune, the funky, future Latino jazz of Inner/Outer Space. Polyrhythms are way deemphasised in favour of a trip back in time to the ’20s and ’30s. It opens with a huge digital fart, perhaps the most overtly electronic noise on the whole disc, but it quickly transforms into the majestic, New Orleans-styled "Funeral March.” From there, Flanger settle down into a muted swing, veering from Benny Goodman to Django Reinhardt to cabaret styles. The vocal tunes are a curious lot, not sung in English with melodies and lyrics that bear traces of Freddy Mercury and Rufus Wainwright, but often sound overblown and silly. Still, one keeps expecting Flanger to bust out the clicks and cuts at any moment, and it never happens, except on the remix of "How Long Is The Wrong Way?” They prefer to subtly alter the clarinets, hollow-body guitars and trumpets with little nips and tucks rather than a full facelift. Mind you, the entire album is probably patched together from a million original sources traded between their home bases in Germany and Chile, but it never feels like it’s been cobbled together. At 45 minutes, it’s as long as it should be; a tasty confection, but not a drawn out opus. (Nonplace)