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Spank That Upright Bass For Me!

Red Snapper
Making Bones

As I listened to the first few seconds of the first track "The Sleepless," I simply knew that I had heard it before. Although it had a little bit of a different edge to it, that same throbbing bass line was there and it didn't take me long until I had figured out that it was the same as the Red Snapper track "Snapper" from their Reeled and Skinned release. Just as I was wondering what the heck they were trying to pull over on me, a free-flowing voice starting dropping a string of lyrical madness. I checked the liner notes and found that MC Det was the featured vocalist laying it all down. Quite different than the Beth Orton vocal snippets over the music of the original that I had heard. When the drumming kicked in, I knew things had changed up even more as they seemed to slam with more force than ever and the sax in the chorus went in completely different directions than the original.

Let me just say right now that if I were going to play in a band, Red Snapper is one that I would want to be in. Not only do they play a strange sort of electronic-fusion (incorporating the sound of a rock band with the dynamics and song structure of electronic music), but they play a huge range of different sounding music, from dancy to laid-back to sultry.

Moving and grooving is the course they take on the second track "Crease," again sounding like there's a stand-up bass player tweaking the hell out of his instruments. Soon a snappy drum line comes in over it all and the track is accentuated with bursts of organ and chimes. As if they know that you'd been shaking your ass for the entirety of the last song, track 3 ("Image Of You") moves into seducto territory with a flutter of drums, some stringed instruments, a strange, wigged-out acid line and beautiful vocals by Alison David. It's just a long enough break before things get warmed up again with "Bogeyman" and completely bust loose again with "The Tunnel." Ragged-edged live drums punctuated with a drum machine kick get things started off before the funked-out bass makes another appearence. As if that weren't good enough for you, things get turned up yet another notch in the track, "Like A Moving Truck." Even though it's the fastest song on the disc (sounding somewhat infused with a drum and bass stuttering rhythym), MC Det keeps pace with some of the slickest flowing vocals I've ever heard attached to an electronic music track.

As if they know when the listener needs a bit of a break, things slow down again with the horn-accented "Spitalfields." It's not completely mellow (the drums bang away like no tomorrow), but the tempo is a lot slower and it feels like a slightly hopped-up jazz number. So the album goes, taking it easy for a couple more tracks before launching into the album finale "Quicktemper." It's as well-balanced of a release that I've heard this year and the variety of tracks and tempos should keep almost any listener interested. One thing the group seems to have done more with Making Bones is include more vocals than they have previously (or at least on the releases that I'd heard), but it's something that doesn't hurt at all. While their tracks can stand alone on instrumental quality, the tracks with MC Det and Alison David benefit from one more element and help things feel even a bit more human. One of the best releases of 1999 thusfar.

Rating: 8.5