Minus 8: Slow Motion

Estella Hung

Equal parts ambient wallpaper and club shindig plucked straight from Café del Mar and Hed Kandi compilations.

Minus 8

Slow Motion

Label: Compost
US Release Date: Import
UK Release Date: Unavailable

Robert Jan "Minus 8" Meyer never quite manages to send his listeners into a stately reverie, for he has a penchant for placing his immaculate downtempo soundscapes near a spark plug of kinked-up beats. And so it is with his seventh album, Slow Motion, his first LP in almost five years. The Swiss DJ/Producer spent much of that time providing sonorous backdrops to short films, trailers, and even Apple's PowerBook campaign, as well as producing compilations.

But while albums past are mostly triumphs in nu-jazz doused in outer-orbit atmospherics -- making it unfortunate that they, like productions of similar stripe of the Compost Records or K7! variety, tend to find a primary audience in undiscerning barflies -- Slow Motion is equal parts ambient wallpaper and club shindig plucked straight from Café del Mar and Hed Kandi compilations, respectively. It's as if Minus 8 has crafted a soundtrack for a 24-hour window into a vacationer's blissful getaway, which has the subject predictably meditating beachside with cocktail in hand (or whatever else goes on at Club Med), followed by more cocktails at a moonlit retro jamboree. Even the jamboree is on a slow-burn.

The "daytime" chapter of the album includes tracks "Winter Tales", "Soverato 09", and "Let It Go" that present a watercolour of sprayed-on strings, diaphanous floating piano progressions, and gentle guitar hooks. A forlorn sax adds to the general maudlin lethargy of the canvas.

Vocals feature stronger here than in any other Minus 8 album, much of it due to the versatile Hungarian chanteuse Virag. Her languorous delivery and nymph-like, melts-like-cocoa timbre makes you forgive the cheesy things she sings about: self-affirmation and self-reflection being a hazard of many 'chill out' productions. "Everybody's gotta learn sometimes / Change your heart, it will astound you", she croons on "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes". Really? "We Are Waiting" propels more naff the listener's way, for (again, exempting Virag's vocals) it sounds like an undisguised keyboard demo which would slot comfortably in the repertoire of a wedding or gentleman's club band. We even hear a Robert Miles-type thunderclap on "Let It Go". Virag is Minus 8's lucky strike as she prevents the album's first half from becoming an indiscriminate pool of airbrushed sound.

Slow Motion eventually gears up a notch with the Ibiza-style house of "Enigma of a Summer Afternoon", the funk disco of "Make Your Day", and the broken beat of "Wonderland". From this variety springs a modicum of memorability. Pop-out tunes include "Juy"'s Jem-style vocal tapestries and exotic instrumentals, "Wonderland" for its syncopated rhythm and meandering staccato keyboard bridge, and "Hustler" for its humorous spoken-word deep groove. The album then oddly dissolves into the shadows with a moody take on Erik Satie's "Gymnopedia".

Unlike Minus 8's 2002 double-album Minuit, whose rhythmic contortions offered a more challenging listen, Slow Motion is mostly headspace filler for barflies and the pathological resort habitue. Though there is nothing wrong with a soundtrack for escapism -- anything beyond recorded sounds of lapping waves and jungle life is welcome -- one does hope that Slow Motion is Minus 8's own momentary escape from what he does best.






Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.


Sally Anne Morgan Invites Us Into a Metaphorical Safe Space on 'Thread'

With Thread, Sally Anne Morgan shows that traditional folk music is not to be smothered in revivalist praise. It's simply there as a seed with which to plant new gardens.


Godcaster Make the Psych/Funk/Hard Rock Debut of the Year

Godcaster's Long Haired Locusts is a swirling, sloppy mess of guitars, drums, flutes, synths, and apparently whatever else the band had on hand in their Philly basement. It's a highly entertaining and listenable album.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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