Album Reviews

Loop Guru – Elderberry Shiftglass

(Elsewhen) UK release date: 9 October 2006

Feeling a bit gloomy without a new Lemon Jelly album this year? Don’tworry, just stick on Loop Guru’s latest offering � you’ll never notice thedifference.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends, of course, on whetheryou like Lemon Jelly. If you do, the latest offering from Sam ‘SalmanGita’ Dodgson and Dave ‘Jamuud’ Muddman will be an aural feast ofstereophonic loveliness (or, as they describe it on the sleevenotes,”Soundcakes from the universe next door”, though “Nuggets: with apologies toFred Deakin” would have been a more honest subtitle). If you don’t, stayaway, as you’re as likely to find anything to enjoy here as a Joy Divisionhater would find on a compilation tape of Interpol, Editors and iLiKETRAiNS.

Following on from their previous recent effort, 2003’s Bathtime With LoopGuru, Elderberry Shiftglass is released on Sam Dodgson’s own label,Elsewhen, which makes it all the more disappointing that with all thecreative freedom in the world at his disposal, he seems more determined tocopy someone else’s sound than experiment with his own. It’s also faintlyannoying that they don’t even bother to give Lemon Jelly the courtesy oflisting them along with the other ‘If you liked this, you might also like…’50-odd usual suspects (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Pink Floyd,George Harrison, etc) on the sleeve notes.

This doesn’t make Elderberry Shiftglass a bad record, of course, as ifyou’re going to be inspired by anyone to this degree, there are far worsebands to chose than Lemon Jelly. In fact, it’s a rather good album, from theclever top-and-tailing spoken vocals that invite the listener to enjoy thestereophonic sound production, through the science fiction psychedelia andHouston control room vocal samples of Strawberry Girl and Soft Fruit Sunday.Marie-Agathe Pecquet, othertimes of Camden Soul, offers a femaletouch with her floaty vocals.

The tail-end of the 60s wafts airily through most of the tracks, from theparticularly trippy University of the Third Ear to the moments of darkparanoia that sneak into Pineapple Puppets on a Sandy Shore. There’s alsogreat brass on Seaweed Suspenders – provided by a tuba and a “psychedelicscuba hoover”, whatever that might be – and lovely tribal drum loops andmellotron on Cryptic Kaleidoscope Crumble. One thing about Loop Guru – withnames like Magical Melody Melon Minds for their tracks and oil slick tie-dyepatterns all over their wares, they do what it says on the tin. If theyturned out to sound like a pub rock band after that, it would be much moredisappointing than them sounding like Fred Deakin’s offcuts.

All of this combines to make a pleasing package of stylophonic euphoriawrapped up in world music beats and an Indian subcontinent musical mosaicworthy of the “psychedelic earfood” they’re aiming for. If I’d never heardof Lemon Jelly, they’d have got four stars instead.

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More on Loop Guru
Loop Guru – Elderberry Shiftglass
Loop Guru – Bathtime With Loop Guru