Devil’s dozen bottom-end numbers from French artist looking for dark pleasures in places dappled with sunshine.
It’s easy to love clever bass-based albums because they often operate on a visceral level, and this Gallic performer is prone to animalistic assault on eardrums, but his second record seems to perpetually careen toward cerebral affairs, what many assume would be a sin. If not for Shob’s patented unpredictability, “Karma Obscur” could become a lost cause; thanks to his quirkiness, there’s a lot of winning moments.
Emotionally supercharged, with a subtle beatbox backing, “Hors D’oeuvre” appears to be able to shatter the listener’s very core, as four strings get shaken and stirred, yet once the focus is shifted to guitars, music’s charms start to evaporate, which can’t be said of cuts such as the intriguing “Enclosures” that get high on brass blares and reach out for celestial bliss. As a result, Laurene Pierre Magnani’s soulful vocals in “Except I’m 65” don’t produce a seductive effect due to axes-driven madness, while “The Professor” may stumble in the way of Elligton’s “Caravan” but never gets there, and “Divergence” will be going nowhere until a solid rock rumble kicks in.
Still, there’s a nice ivories’ shimmer behind the title track and “Straight Ahead” to propel their muscular fuzz and tribal buzz along fusion-kissed funk, where aggressiveness and romance conspire. More so, samba elements shown up in “Rusty Dog” are truly exciting, as is the perky “Green Elephant” that bristles with brisk runs and features a brilliant trumpet solo. Yet although a few pieces, the sax-smeared “The Right Move” included, exist in the ’70s-styled smooth state – unlike “Action Mutante” which has a heavy resolve and filigree shredding to its jittery dynamics – “Dissection” feels subaquatically taut and playfully fluid at the same time. Spurred by organ purr, the infectious splashes of “Sulfur” suggesting the possibility of drift turning acidic here; only Shob doesn’t take things so far. And this should be really considered a sin, or karma – caught by camera obscura.