Land Of The Loops
For some reason, it took 4 years from the original, but Alan Sutherland is finally back with a full-length new batch of lo-fi fun with Puttering About A Small Land. Once again he's armed himself with a slew of chunky beats, a potload full of weird samples (including an absolutely hilarious interview bit with a rockstar expounding on the virtues of spandex), and all kinds of other fun stuff to keep a smile on your face while throwing the shake into your hips.
If you haven't heard Land Of The Loops before, perhaps the best explanation for the group is to say that it's like lo-fi beat-driven nursery rhyme music that is pretty much good for any occassion when you don't feel like being too serious. Often, Sutherland combines all kinds of electronic blurps and bloops, some funked-up hip-hop sounding beats, and then light female vocals over the whole thing. It's sort of a strange juxtaposition if you haven't heard it before, but actually quite irresistible.
Like on his debut full-length album Bundle Of Joy, this release actually starts out with sort of an intro track ("Starter Kit") that only lasts about a minute and a half. On it, he loops a simple strum of a guitar and a really light beat, then adds all kinds of funny samples to sort of set the mood for things. There are bits of people laughing, swearing, and one bit that plays over and over again of a man saying "stabbing into your subconcious mind." Then it ends and again as he did on the last album, almost every song has some sort of obscure sample tagged on the end of it (just before the next track) that sometimes feel out of place and sometimes work quite well.
Even if they sound out-of-place, though, it's easy to give the benefit of the doubt on the release with sing-song tracks like "Single Girl Summer Home." Fitting the formula described above, it's sort of a rumbling track of weird beats and all kinds of electronic gurgles offset with light female vocals. He repeats nearly the same formula with tracks like "Knee Deep In Packasandra" and "Fresh Pond Parkway," but each one sounds just enough different to keep things interesting and fun.
One of the only problems that the disc has is that many of the beat structures in the different songs sound a bit the same, but it's really not a monster quibble. Overall it's an engaging album, and although it doesn't go in as many directions as the debut (although the epic-length "Party Pooper" does drift off into kind of a haunting section that mixes drone with light blips), there's still nearly as much fun to be had. The final track of "Marshmellow Pillows" is almost the perfect way to close things down. It's not too upbeat, but muffles a beat just a bit and floats some ethereal vocals out over the mix while adding in some keyboard tones. It winds the album down and out and along with the aforementioned "Party Pooper" shows that although there are mainly silly song titles, Sutherland can do some pretty subtle things as well.