Album Reviews

Chilly Gonzales – Ivory Tower

(Gentle Threat) UK release date: 30 August 2010

Chilly Gonzales - Ivory Tower Chilly Gonzales, as we should now call him, is not a man who does musical dullness – and with this release of Ivory Tower he’s pushed out the boat to include an accompanying feature film, which stars Tiga and Peaches. Having listened to the album, mind, it becomes clear that the film carries the creative weight here. It explains some of the Michael Nyman-esque piano lines that busy themselves running round in circles, until the producer adds some beefy beats underneath. The beats themselves are Ed Banger-style funk, caked in dirt and dropping through the floor with impressive weight – a bit like Justice and Philip Glass holding court in the same room.

And yet, despite the obvious potential for entertainment, something on the record just doesn’t click. The nonsense lyrics are entertaining in a way, but they can also be baffling. “Racist cappuccino”, anyone? “Imperial armpits that sweat Chianti?” Or is the recipe for success simply being “a yellow tooth, waltzing with wraparound shades on”? Whichever takes your fancy, they are all characters on I Am Europe, the funky as hell number that will either have you wetting yourself laughing or screwing your face up in puzzlement.

The Grudge is either worse or funnier, depending on your viewpoint. Like an Eminem outtake, the song adopts a faux rage at haters and doubters. “You are my mountain and I will piss on your summit!” he declares. “You are my judge and I won’t budge”, he claims defiantly, reminding us along the way that “revenge is like sashimi, best served cold, so shiver when you see me”.

Ultimately this approach is wearying, especially when the beats behind are largely laced with funk. Ivory Tower, however, has other ideas, a characteristically oblique piano riff working a treat with its equally catchy chorus. It’s a sublime moment.

The feeling remains, however, that Ivory Tower the album will be at its most effective when the visuals come in to play. Many of its instrumentals lack an essential element of either melody or art, so it’s safe to assume they will come to life better on screen. As an album this will prove divisive – being either a riotous piece of entertainment or a source of occasional annoyance. Not one to ignore, but maybe one from which to cherry pick highlights.

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