I don’t know the precise moment when `chillout’ became a genre of music, but Morcheeba has added the modifier `psychedelic’ to that word with the release of The Antidote, an album that finds former Noonday Underground vocalist Daisy Martey replacing Skye Edwards. The Godfrey brothers are the musical force behind Morcheeba, the band whose name is somewhat slang for `more marijuana.’ Chillout indeed. But whereas the trip-hop group’s earlier efforts were more in line with the music of Portishead and Tricky, The Antidote finds Paul and Ross Godfrey, and new addition Daisy Martey getting in touch with more of the `trip’ than the `hop.’
It’s amazing what a new member of a band can bring. Daisy Martey’s voice is equal parts Grace Slick, Shirley Bassey and Dusty Springfield, and possibly due to that, Morcheeba’s music has ventured into the realm of the cinematic, the psychedelic and the groovetastic. The DJ Shadow-visits-the-Shire backdrop of “Ten Men” is hypnotic, then leads into Dusty Springfield territory in the chorus before it ends with a Stone Roses-like guitar coda. “Everybody Loves a Loser” evokes Shirley Bassey in her heyday. The duet on “Like a Military Coup” is being compared to the Fifth Dimension and is one of the most engaging songs on the record. “Living Hell” is like Dionne Warwick and, once again, Dusty Springfield rolled into one.
The `driving’ beat of “People Carrier” makes it a perfect `driving’ song, just don’t get caught, it might make the foot a bit heavy. Daisy Martey’s voice finds easy comparison to Grace Slick in her Jefferson Airplane days. A trip hop cover of “White Rabbit” wouldn’t be too entirely out of bounds on this record to tell you the truth. The Godfrey brothers each have one foot planted firmly in this age with their production prowess, interweaving different sounds and instruments, and one foot planted in the `free love’ psychedelic sixties. In other words, The Antidote is the perfect soundtrack for the next James Bond film. Think about it, you get Ewan McGregor (who producers say is too short for the role. Huh?) who got the sixties swingin’ cat down in Down With Love, overlay some Morcheeba music, call the film “Wonders Never Cease” and you’re off to the races!
For those who thought the genre extinct, Morcheeba manage to resuscitate trip-hop one more time, albeit with a different bent. The Antidote is a thoroughly enjoyable `chillout’ record, and one that may end up being a defining moment in its, so far, short history. Rather than try to recapture the sound of albums past, attempting to replace Skye Edwards with a soundalike, the Godfrey brothers got smart, hired on Daisy Martey, and forged a different sound to capture hearts and minds. Fatboy Slim and Liam Howlett could have learned a thing or two from this record. And now the Echo label, after signing the new Morcheeba, I Am Kloot, Engineers, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Ray LaMontagne, are looking like geniuses.
Dusty Springfield- Dusty in Memphis
Jefferson Airplane- Surrealistic Pillow
Moloko- Do You Like My Tight Sweater?