Slicker is a outfit that hasn't exactly been known to stand in one place. On the debut of Confidence In Duber, main man John Hughes concocted a nearly all-electronic affair, mixing a bit of glitchery with micro-programming while the follow-up was a remix disc from the likes of Prefuse 73 and Mice Parade). His second true full-length was The Latest, and it delved more into jazzy live instrumentation while still maintaining that laptop electronic feel. This newest release finds Hughes tossing nearly all that out the window, opting for a more trans-global feel influenced by everything from hip-hop to afro-beat.
There's still a fair smidge of electronic programming on the release, but it's augmented so much that it would be easy to mistake this for a completely different group based on the earlier releases. The disc opens with "God Bless This Mess, This Test We Pass" and it just sort of meanders around a repetitive beat for the majority of the track while Phil Ranelin does his best to add some interesting trombone and Wendell Harrison layers some flutes and sax. Taking a completely different direction, "When The Dog Goes Lame" busts off into stuttering hip-hop with fairly typical boastful lyrics by Phat Kat.
Just when I thought things couldn't get any more confusing, "Knock Me Down Girl" arrives like a breeze of mainstream R&B replete with vocodored vocals and light flutes. Despite the complete genre hodgepodge, the album pulls together really well in places. The sultry, laid-back jazz of "A Strong Donkey" (with vocals by Lindsay Anderson of L'altra) breaks off into a vibrant middle section with blasting horns and vocals by Ghanaian vocalist Dan Boadi while "Straight Mess" is a static-filled glitch-hop number that pulls together dirty horns and chopped vocals for a great dose of dirty fun.
Even the long album closer of "Can't Cope" blends violin, vocals, and tons of other components into a swirling stew that somehow keeps things on the rails and finishes out the release in fine fashion. Too often on the disc, though, it feels like Hughes is tossing everything at the wall and hoping that something sticks. I'm sure it was a blast to have everyone from funk-jazz legends like Phil Ranelin to others on hand for recording, but it makes for a rather uneven listen. Some tracks (like the aforementioned "When The Dog Goes Lame") sound so far out-of-place on the recording that you wonder why they were even included. An ambitious but inconsistent release.