Album Reviews

Bumblebeez – Prince Umberto & The Sister Of Ill

(81 / Modular) UK release date: 31 March 2008

The huge array of instruments on the cover of Prince Umberto & The Sister Of Ill should give a clue as to its album’s content.

It should scare off those looking for an easy ride or feet up in front of the fire. No, this is a record that takes you by the scruff of the neck and sets you down, forty minutes later, blinking widely.

By that point though the brother and sister duo will have whipped the dancefloor into a frenzy of flailing arms and legs, with their big beats, pumped-up vocals and white noise. Brash and lacking social graces, they take over the club sound system and rap in your face. “I know you want some of this punani” goes the rap on Clubb Clubb. Phones ring and voices cry on Radio Fabulous. Guitars wail, distortion takes over and big beat mayhem sets in.

Yet just as the album threatens to spiral out of control the band get their finger back on the pulse. Only a curmudgeonly wallflower could avoid dancing to the ultra funky Dr Love or the loping beats of Zulu. Freak Ya Loneliness delivers beefy beats and a vocoder vocal with attitude, the closest Bumblebeez get to a fully fledged song.

Elsewhere it’s a hotchpotch of musical styles, blended together with varying degrees of success by the producer, Simian Mobile Disco‘s James Ford. Crazy Tongue is pure garage punk, while My Girl blows itself up with a barrage of white noise, just about picking up the pieces of its own explosion by the end.

Almost inevitably given the band’s antipodean origins, comparisons have surfaced with the Avalanches. In a sense they stick, for though the Bumblebeez tend not to be reliant on sampling they flick effortlessly between moods and sounds, without care or warning. In one sense this means they never take their fingers off the pulse – in another it’s tricky to pin down their identity.

It’s all huge fun though, and will annoy the hell out of the neighbours. The flitting between styles can jar, the music never settling. But then that’s the nature of the beast, as this album was clearly never designed for a discerning listener’s coffee table. This is music to spill drinks and dance uncontrollably to – and in that sense handsomely fulfills its blueprint.

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Bumblebeez – Prince Umberto & The Sister Of Ill