Three years on from having their debut albumfrequently mentioned in the same sentence ascompatriots Air, French instrumental trioTelepopmusik return with a cinematic second, this timewith the aid of three vocalists.
Although technically classed as electronica, theyhave a keen sense of orchestration that shows awillingness to include strings, brass, piano and evenharp. Meanwhile the singers ensure that while thealbum remains down tempo it contains plenty ofvariety.
Angela McCluskey and Deborah Andersonboth fit the bill for late night slow burners,although the former’s way with Don’t Look Back is overmannered, despite the immediacy of the chorus. Bothsuffer from over exposure to the vocoder, a trick thatworks in making them sound dated, but means they areat risk of losing the essence of what they aresinging. Indeed, as the brass and string forces gatherin Love’s Almighty, McCluskey’s voice becomessubmerged beneath the richness of the texture.
Third up for vocal duties is Mau, asinger/rapper, whispering atmospherically on LastTrain To Wherever, or providing a lovelorn lyric toAnyway, a promising song marred slightly (or enhanced,depending on your opinion!) by the ambiguity of itsmain line: “Well I try at least, anyway”.
With these criticisms it’s easy to overlook thequality of Telepopmusik’s arrangements, many of whichtake a leaf out of Nellee Hooper‘s book. Theatmospheric Swamp, acting as a prelude to Nothing’sBurning, uses a mysterious harmonic language, as doesthe orchestral opening of Love’s Almighty. The use ofharp is particularly good, its nicely pointed linesgiving a new colour at the end of Into Everything.
When taken as a complete piece of work the album’sstructure makes sense, although it’s to Mau’sdisadvantage that he gets the shorter tracks near theend. McCluskey gets the centrepiece – Brighton Beach,a potentially autobiographical song that finds herpondering: “I don’t put a smile on your face no more”.The closing 15 Minutes is in fact made up of fourteenminutes of silence, being one of those annoying hiddentracks that make you jump just when you thought therecord was finished.
Despite reservations, Angel Milk can be recommendedas a good after hours album, providing you’re contentto let the music wash over you, and its subtle tour ofdown tempo musical styles will keep you largelysatisfied, if perhaps a touch melancholic.