Album Reviews

Flowriders – Starcraft

(4lux) UK release date: 25 April 2005

Flowriders - Starcraft Flowriders: thoroughly misguided or simply European? It’s the latter thank goodness, which means there’s still hope as we put their debut album into our stereo and listen with anticipation to the first track while ignoring the cheesy 90s connotations the name conjures up. Hmm, it’s… jazzy – hooray, with an ’80s feel – boo, funky – hooray, mixed with pop – boo, interesting – hooray, with all-encompassing keys – boo…

It’s hard to make up your mind about Dutch 10-piece Flowriders. They certainly have something going on, but is it a decade too late? The outfit have blossomed from a duo in 2000 into a gifted rabble of 10 in 2005 and this growth has created a certain diversity in their music, which has to be praised.

What’s more, they’ve produced a 16-track debut: definitely eager to please. The beats are broken, the soul is nu, and the percussion funky. But the vocals, which at times are wonderfully soulful, at others ever-so-slightly miss the mark.

The album as a whole is rife with jazzy refrains and groovy bass, but as one track mooches into the next you begin to feel that the overall effect lacks the necessary pizzazz.

Reggae Roots is interrupted after a promising beginning by a flailing flute, which is only halted by the percussionist dropping his sticks – the only explanation for the track ending so abruptly. The horns on following track Macy Miles doesn’t sit entirely comfortably with the overly pop-focused male vocal which develops a slight feel of a Craig David R ‘n’ Bollocks at the end.

But skip to cooler-than-cucumber Matter, for then Flowriders at their most focused. That is until that pesky flute raises its unsightly head again, screeches the same melody as the funky female singer, and at times obscures her completely.

The flute, perhaps one of their proudest attributes on the album, is also the one that dogs it. Tracks like Nerd Rock and Roots Go Deep, which concentrate on electric wiggles, bring the band up to date.

The biggest claim to fame Flowriders can boast of is probably supporting Lamb (once), and just like the trip hop legends themselves, Flowriders are probably much better live. You can really imagine the presence the 10-piece have on stage and the atmosphere the layering of sounds create.

Pressed together on disc Starcraft merges into a wash of pleasantness that only really catches your attention when it errs. Buy it if you’re a soulful fellow who likes to lounge.

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Flowriders – Starcraft