Paul White Paul WhitePaul White & The Purple Brain
It is not my intention to write in praise of drugs in this review, nor even to tell a funny story or an anecdote about the curative powers of smoking weed. Everyone should do whatever floats their boat with their THC joints. I personally think that the best thing is to savour them slowly with a good electronic album playing in the background, and, if possible, a cold Coca-Cola or yoghurt drink (melon flavour, trust me). But that’s just me. Having said this, people like me who are miserable losers stuck on the eternal joint can take pride in their addiction and say, for once, that hash and grass have improved their lives. Because Paul White’s new album is a spliff about the size of a bus. Chock full of marijuana, smoking like an industrial smokestack, as odorous as burning bushes; it’s one of those rolls that leaves you with your eyes half-closed and a stupid look on your face for two hours. I’m sorry to be so frivolous, but this is the conclusion: with a good joint, this music becomes an outstanding experience. Without trippy help, this “musical extravaganza” is a delirium that, like Haley’s comet, comes back to you once every few years, and in the meantime you get on with living in the here and now, because life is short.
Paul White forged himself a reputation as an ultrafreak beatmaker, thanks to the LP “The Strange Dreams Of Paul White”, and he doesn’t seem inclined to normalise his mental state with this new record—his aim seems to be exactly the opposite to be precise, to intensify the imbalances in his brain to previously unsuspected limits and make himself into the Hunter S. Thompson of the new beat scene. If you doubt my words, you need only study this album’s raison d’être to understand this judgement. The idea is very simple. White has taken recordings from a Swedish psychedelic rock musician named S. T. Mikael –a guy whose existence I wouldn’t have even known about except for the Londoner bringing him to my attention now– and has built his own structure from samples pulled out of the Nordic artist’s musical universe. To do so, he has used acid pop techniques, vomited saturated loops, bathed in dizzying atmospheres, executed hip hop production techniques, and made a radical cut’n’paste (25 cuts and very short interludes that last for seconds, some of them reaching a minute and a half in length); it massively one of the latest adventures of Edan, only wilder.
People who expect to find normal songs, or simply those who hate conceptual LPs, will just have to grit their teeth, or even bite down on a wooden stick if necessary. We are looking at an impressionistic painting, not an album. You have to look at it from a distance in order to see the final design; it is useless to try to decipher it in parts. That is to say, to understand it song by song, because it would be like trying to find the beauty in a diamond by staring at only one of its facets. Each musical portion is a little shot of trippy juices where find bits of druggy pop, psychedelic rock, Oriental music (there are tons of Hindu moments), hip hop, dusty funk, rare grooves, and party music all dipped in a stimulating lo-fi bath. 60s guitars, tacky drums, xylophones, beats, B-movie choruses, sitars, smothering keyboards: the musical world of S. T. Mikael takes on a dimension somewhere between David Lynch and Madlib in Paul White’s hands. It is a one-way trip, never a round trip, and you have to experience it from beginning to end in order to make sense of the journey. I understand that at this stage of the game, a vanguard reconstruction of the legacy of a Swedish psychedelic rocker sounds less appealing than running the New York marathon with John Goodman in your arms, but it is worth getting on this love train, at least once. I can already feel it going to my head.
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