PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

London Elektricity: Billion Dollar Gravy

Tom White

London Elektricity

Billion Dollar Gravy

Label: Hospital
US Release Date: 2003-06-03
UK Release Date: 2003-05-26
Amazon
iTunes

Drum 'n' bass as a genre is expansive to say the least. The spectrum stretches from the dark and brooding sci-fi esque sound, explored to great success by Ed Rush and Optical and Bad Company, and shifts dramatically to the more melodic and soulful as seen via Peshay and DJ Marky. Indeed, it seems that melody seems to be winning the battle for the punters as the appealing blend of upfront beats and strong sense of a tune is vastly more appetising than the onslaught of sound purveyed by the bass heavy and exclusively dance floor friendly dark d 'n' b crews.

Enter Hospital Records who have been at the forefront of releasing innovative, soulful drum 'n' bass and beats for five years now. Two of their most popular compilations that showcase the talents signed to the label are on the Out Patients and Plastic Surgery series and indicate their desire as a label to be seen as an innovator in a genre that has in the past struggled due to stagnation.

London Elektricity who were once seen as eccentric for their uplifting funk-centric sound have returned with their second album that couldn't be further from the noisy nihilism at the opposite end of the drum 'n' bass scale. Consequently, Billion Dollar Gravy should be far more appealing for the first-time drum 'n' bass listener.

After the departure of Chris Goss, it has been up to Tony Colman to present his sophomore set that he has constructed with some style. Also at his side is the Jungle Drummer who provides significant weight to the organic style of London Elektricity and is complimented admirably by Chicago hero Robert Owens and London Elektricity stalwart Liane Carrol on vocals.

So is Billion Dollar Gravy a record that breathes further life into the melodic drum 'n' bass genre? The simple answer is yes. As London Elektricity's second album, Pull the Plug being the first, it stands up as generally being a unique and surprising drum 'n' bass excursion guided by the vocal talents of Robert Owens. The heavy funk of the title track sets the trend for tuneful dance music that could easily be just as effective on the dance floor as in the bedroom.

The standout tracks are "Different Drum" and "Syncopated City". "Different Drum" combines a brilliant piano riff with gospel style vocals providing a truly uplifting experience. The vocal skills of Robert Owens are showcased on this track and are complimented by subtle use of synth alongside lush strings and appropriate guitar licks. "Syncopated City" is even more expressive in its use of strings and acid-jazz-esque harmonising of vocals. "Syncopated City" is ultimately very catchy and seems to blur the lines of an already elastic drum 'n' bass genre further still.

Other highlights include "Fast Soul Music" with its spiky strings and organic marimbas maintaining the interest. Also of note, and certainly an appealing track due to its depth, is "Main Ingredient" with vocal duties supplied by long standing London Elektricity collaborator Liane Carrol. It is essentially a very well structured track with proper verses and choruses. This is very striking and unique for the drum 'n' bass genre and can only serve to drive this form of music towards more well deserved public attention.

Sadly, "Billion Dollar Gravy" is not quite the perfect set of tracks it could have been. Even the mighty London Elektricity have included tracks that are not essentially that exciting or inspiring to say the least. "Harlesden" is one such example as it seems to go through the motions and lay down rather uninteresting and uninspiring samples and beats. Also "Born to Synthesise", a down tempo acid-jazz excursion, really fails to capture the imagination and it sounds remarkably out of place on the album that tends to avoid such coffee-table fodder.

The verdict is quite unequivocal. If you have never listened to any drum 'n' bass before, I strongly recommend you make Billion Dollar Gravy your first step into the genre. There are some genuine gems here that shouldn't be cast aside as simply disposable dance dross. I for one hope the soulful and melodic trend that has been thriving in drum 'n' bass for a couple of years now will continue without being once again overtaken by some hellish desire for listeners to return to the senseless "darkness" of tuneless rubbish. Billion Dollar Gravy is a record that can only enhance your summer and your record collection as a whole.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.

Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.