Album Review: Younger Brother - The Last Days of Gravity

It has been four years since the world experienced the first Younger Brother album "A Flock of Bleeps." The album met critical success among chillout and psy-trance circles. High expectations were set for the new concept, and thus, some fears among the purists were expressed as well.

The crave for the new entry was evidenced in electronic music forums and file sharing programs worldwide with countless fans asking around trying to get an early taste of the tag-team project by psy-trance veterans Simon Posford (Shpongle, Hallucinogen) and Benji Vaughan (Prometheus).

Slip in the CD, or record (or file) but only after making sure there will be no interruptions. I chose to play the whole album lying-down to finish off a long night of work. A sense of rebirth takes place immediately with Happy Pills, an uplifting fluffy melody soon joined by echoing pads of freedom setting the tone for what has become my favorite musical journey of the year to date. The beats keep rising, building layers upward in expectations of a break...

"Could you define the word paranoiac," starts All I Want, foreshadowing moments of a more aggressive and determined feel with a slightly faster pace and airy yet somehow relaxing guitar licks and vocals in some language I am unfamiliar with, and then bits in English. The beat is definitely Younger Brother recognizable and ends with a little ambiance, a break in the climb allowing for the first plateau to sink in.

The Elephant Machine, definitely mechanical and with voices begging the traveler to "go round & round." Breakbeats give the track a steady cadence, but altogether doesn't manage to stand out as much as the two past ones. I have the sensation of having effortlessly floated up a mountain and am entering some sort of robot encampment to resupply, wondering if the near future will turn out to be a darker place than expected.

And as I begin to lose my bearings in doubt of whether I am living a comedy or tragedy Your Friends are Scary slowly but surely drags me into a brisk trot into a territory I am strangely familiar with, but not within the psychedelic chilled mountain I thought I was climbing. Although I enjoy the scenery, I feel a little bit uncomfortable but very curious why I was brought here.

Suddenly I am abducted by strange creatures chanting "I Am A Freak. I Am Unique.," These little hooded people carry me with a brisk trot into a cave on the face of the mountain I thought I originally was on. Goan vocals and light percussive scuttering chatter of the creatures is bathed in a wave of phat bassline. Immediately I think of Benji's work in his latest album, Corridor of Mirrors, as the culprit. So far the sound was more approximating Shpongle's (but without Raja Ram's crazy fluting). I get dropped off at a tunnel with a dim light cutting through the darkness sparkling some specks of dust. I walk towards it and,

Looking out, expecting to see the horizon and almost completed sunset, I am bewildered to see a garden of soothing scents and strawberry bright cotton-candy trees. I become aware of a Ribbon On a Branch and upon grabbing it, I realize that this album has little to do with psytrance, but to think of that as an important factor would be missing the point. Voices, melancholic and sleepy help me drift off to some other dimension. Sleepy time!

But then, the creatures rush in to take me to some other destination. I can't help but wonder how smoothly they convince me to play along. I must have been drugged by those cotton-candy trees. I am now out the cave and back on my path up the mountain. It is a steep climb now, but I have enlisted the little creatures to help out to make up for lost time. Like a self aware Sleepwalker (part 1), I begin to see the top of the mountain and my inevitable homing in. The melodies seem more crystalline and Shpongle-like. I get the impression that the creatures are becoming impatient with their end of the deal and pick up the pace.

With closed eyes I say out loud (a talking sleepwalker? part two), "Truly this is the Younger Brother I remember from years past. I have been here before." I guess I never really left the mountain, just took the scenic route. I am almost there, at the top of this magical, imaginary mountain. This last stretch has been riddled with a steady pace but with short brakes for air in between, not because of fatigue, but because, well I don't know. I now find myself sitting up and tapping my feet, plugging in my trusty cans to get a real closer look. The creatures slow to a halt, drop me off, and go back to wherever they came from.

I open my eyes in total darkness, save the blinking light of my laptop and a street light beyond the curtains. I am on top of the mountain once I close my eyes again. I notice that at the highest edge of the mountain there is a tree which I promptly climb to get a better view. It seems time was frozen while I was in the cave, for the sun is still setting. Like any other Psychic Gibbon on a tree on top of a magical mountain, I stare in awe; I see the sky and stars at night; I see the river flowing in the distance, pink and orange reflecting the sky and am greeted by strings of joy thanking me for taking the trip.

Do yourself a favor. Witness for yourself the gift we have received from people who really know their craft, creating music that touches your soul and takes you to a place you have been to, but haven't fully seen before.

Truly a masterpiece, focusing on making music that pulls your soul to a steep soar above sunset lit clouds of dreamy psychedelic dualities of hope and melancholy, instead of mindlessly rocking the dance floor like so many other acts so desperately hold on to.

The Younger Brother concept mirrors Infected Mushroom's idea of sharing psytrance music and culture with a broader audience, but manages to do so without anger-induced accusations of "selling out. "

It would be a shame to see this gem snagged with the 5-finger-e-discount because of its sheer awe-inspiring and entrancing qualities.

Buy at:
Twisted Records

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agreed, a sublime journey to Mount Analog, this album.

Cloud Nine