Cousin Lou: Moody Dollar
Beluga Recordings

Moody Dollar is the tripped-out, dubtronica debut outing from Cousin Lou, the alias of Beluga Recordings' co-owner Steve Denniss, and—true to the Utrecht, Holland-based label's “ Share the Wealth” credo—the release is freely available from the Beluga web site. Moody Dollar (slang for counterfeit or fake money, the term alludes to Denniss's stint as a croupier in a UK casino) is a more-than-solid travelogue that guides the listener through eleven down-tempo dubscapes, including the laid-back, jazz-funk swing of “Merciful Pilate Dub” and squiggly jaunt of “Minky.”

The music's informed by multiple influences, with some expected, such as reggae and ska (Denniss grew up in between Coventry and Birmingham in England, the birth-place of The Specials and UB40 among others), and some less so. The hook of a ‘50s Theremin-like warble animates the doo-wop sway of “Dead Rabbits,” for example, while the ponderous “If I Die Today” could be mistaken for a lost track from a Morricone soundtrack for Sergio Leone (and steals a melody from The Cure's “I Will Always Love You” in the process too). Chaperoned by a preachin' voiceover, “Stella Dash” digs deep into its bluesy skank, after which “Blistering” opts for an uptempo strut with sleigh bells, vocoders, and a deep-throated choir along for the ride. In short, the trip's scenic, especially when a seeming library of samples twists the material into surprising shapes. Don't leave before the end, either, because the outro, a gorgeous little number called “Sunday Morning,” is about the sweetest thing going and surely the most uplifting tune you've heard lately.

January 2008