Neotropic White Rabbits

[Mush; 2004]

Styles: indie ambient acoustic electronica : )
Others: Dosh, Fog, Thievery Corporation

After reading about her affiliation with Ninja Tune and its sister label Ntone, I was surprised to discover how organic Riz Maslen's latest release under the Neotropic moniker is. That's not to say White Rabbits is devoid of digital manipulation, but the 'electronica' label seems too limiting for such a broad work of music. Yeah, so it's inevitable that the album will be grouped in with other indie electronic acts (refer to my similar artists listing), but don't let the name dropping fool you, White Rabbit is original enough to hold its own. If, for the sake of argument, I was going to break out some comparisons, I would most definitely start at a point far removed from the world of digitally tweaked break beats: The first song, "New Cross" sounds more like some low-key Yo La Tengo cover, and the reoccurring piano and guitar phrases are pretty enough to fit on any given Rachels album. As a whole, Maslen succeeds at juxtaposing jazzy guitar lines with crisp digital high hat snaps, plotting low, dub-like bass figures and cut up vocals against methodical violin and harmonica passages, and so on.

Really, there are only a few noticeable hindrances throughout the course of White Rabbits' hour-long run time, one of them being its length. Most of the songs fall into the formula of setting up convention, and then breaking it down into ambient codas. Simply put, there is too much open space; and while it sometimes enhances the albums overall mood, it can also push things to the background. If you aren't paying attention, a lot of White Rabbits will roll by unnoticed. It's a good 'chill out' album, as they might say, but I'm more interested in the structured sections. The final tracks manage to gain some cohesion with the addition of Maslen's lyrics; the first example coming as a short segue, repeating the line: "Talk with the gun/ Talk with the gun/ Pull the trigger and you'll feel better." Though, perhaps more interesting than the inclusion of vocals (to an already expansive album) is the addition of... umm... death metal? Fast-forward to around 12 minutes into the last track, "If We Were Tree's," and soak in the slightly beguiling finale. It only goes to show that Maslen isn't content repeating the same stale electronic formula. White Rabbits is a step in the right direction not only for its creator, but for the electronic genre as whole.

1. Girls At The Seaside
2. New Cross
3. Inch Inch
4. Magpies
5. Odity Round-a-Heights
6. Feelin' Remote
7. Small Moves
8. Joe Luke
9. If We Were Trees

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