Music News

Blue States

About five years ago, everyone was jonesin' for that fusion of chilled beats, acid jazz and world beat simply known as "downtempo." But much has changed since then. What was once cool because it sounded like French porn from the '60s is now uncool because it's like French porn from the '60s: no money shots, just hairy ugly people gettin' it on.

Blue States proves why the formula no longer works. The group is the brain child of producer/multi-instrumentalist Anthony Dragazis, and its early work was guided by a child's approach to instrumentation and arrangement, resulting in titillating buildups and featherweight hooks. Add some kind bud, and these were sweet tracks. Now, relying on the same tricks for Man Mountain, Blue States -- and downtempo -- have worn out their welcome.

The album's first track and single, "Metro Sound," starts off with some mature strings that sound like they've been lifted from the score to Taxi Driver. It's a dramatic opening, but then this happens: nothing! Ten minutes later you realize you're three tracks into the album and you don't remember hearing anything different.

Newcomer Tahita Bulmer adds sultry vocals on various tracks to break up the instrumentals, but regular inhabitants of the chill-out room will recognize her voice as nothing new stylistically. The only relief from the shallow undulations of each track is "Season Song," which features a choir of English schoolchildren, calling to mind Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."

The biggest pile of crap, however, is that somewhere out there someone is saying that Man Mountain is a more "sophisticated" brand of downtempo. Fuck that. Downtempo has become three-chord punk for pseudointellectuals who can't kick their weed habit.

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Garrett Kamps