Minilogue: Animals
Cocoon Recordings

Minilogue's Animals is remarkable—though maybe not for the right reason. Malmö, Sweden-based producers Sebastian Mullaert and Marcus Henriksson (aka Son Kite) have opted to issue not one but two eighty-minute discs in the package, with the first disc christened “dance” and the second “ambient.” Consequently, though the material itself is solid enough when broached track-by-track, even the most dedicated Minilogue fan may succumb to fatigue by set's end (the prolific duo is even issuing a concurrent full-length as IMPS on the Japanese Mule Electronic imprint). Perhaps the trip wouldn't feel quite so long if the so-called “progressive trance masters” also opted for a more dynamically contrasting attack rather than keeping things on such an even minimal keel. Animals (so named because Minilogue's imaginary creatures function as symbols for the group's genre-spanning mix of electronic styles) appears on Cocoon but it might just as easily have appeared on Minus, given the material's embrace of minimal signatures (disc one's “33000 Honeybees,” or instance, marries jacking tech-house of the kind so beloved by Minus devotees with a careening, Monolake-styled billiard ball effect).

Each of the first half's dozen tracks flows seamlessly into the next, enhancing the disc's clubby feel. Eschewing barn-burning for a lighter, buoyant feel, Minilogue's consonant material just as easily inhabits a background as foreground space. The trajectory is classic slow-build, with “Yesterday Bells” heard through a scrim of refracting BofC haze that leads into the vaporous Basic Channel-Chain Reaction dub-techno of “Cow, Crickets and Clay.” “Hitchhiker's Choice” offers up clockwork minimal house while the thrusting churn of “We All” stokes some needed heat. The “dance” disc also includes “Jamaica,” a slinky, ten-minute stepper lubricated with drop-outs and a locomotive groove, the slithering, slow-motion acid of “View of a Juggling Ball,” and the funky bass-banger “Giant Hairy Super Monsters” and galaxial “In a Distance.”

If the pulsating “dance” half feels long, the understandably less driving “ambient” half feels even longer. Beatless, Eno-like reveries appear as do BofC-styled wooziness (“City Lights,” “Seconds (Colour & Sound),” “Outro”) and downtempo trip-hop (“Six Arms and One Leg,” replete with raconteur voice-over). There's noodling and stasis aplenty—the style is ambient, after all—which wouldn't be a bad thing under other circumstances, but when it constitutes half of a near-160 minute running time, the effect is ultimately numbing. By the time longish tracks like “Europhonia” and “Feeling in Spring Beside the Dressing Table” appear near the close of disc two, weariness has set in. Were Minilogue to combine two standout tracks from the passable second disc with the best forty-five minutes of the first, the result would be a considerably more digestible version of Animals.

May 2008