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Urban Gamelan

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Album Review

Urban Gamelan is of two distinct halves. The first half, featuring new bassist Sketch, is grounded in 23 Skidoo's love of funk, reggae, and Afrobeat. "F.U.G.I." would later be re-fashioned into "Coup," the brilliant track that would be sampled liberally by the Chemical Brothers for "Block Rockin' Beats"; though it's not as tight and bracing as "Coup," "F.U.G.I." has a nasty low-slung lope to it, made all the more ominous by the desperate, distant voice that repeatedly screams, "G.I. — f*ck you!" "Fire" is an unremarkable spaghetti Eastern gone dub, while both "Misr Wakening" and "Jalan Jalan" — two slow-rolling percussion exercises — have the same type of paranoid and pensive qualities heard on Seven Songs. The second half sees the group as industrial-style percussionists, fashioning instruments from scraps of sheet metal and battering and scraping them into hypnotic but occasionally tedious pieces. "Helicopterz" is particularly lulling and fragile; at the other end of the spectrum, there's "Sirens," a startling minute of frenetic rattling. The layers with which the separate tracks are made are several, and the fact that each one was recorded live is extremely impressive, though the results aren't nearly as engaging as the group's avant-funk material. [The LTM version of the album adds both sides of the "Coup" and "Language" 12" singles.]

Customer Reviews

Great album, listen and learn what the early 80's was about

This album is superb, a true masterpiece. This album has truly stood the test of time and sounds as good now as it did when it was released. I've been listening to the vinyl version since 84 and it sounds just as good as a digital download.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Early compatriots of Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle on Britain's experimental/industrial scene, 23 Skidoo pursued an improvisational fusion of ethnic drumming and post-punk dance on their few recordings of the early '80s. Named after a slang phrase from the 1920s that had originally appeared in the work of Aleister Crowley, the group formed in London around brothers (and martial-arts experts) Alex and Johnny Turnbull and Fritz Catlin (aka Fritz Haamann). Influenced by Fela Kuti and the emerging...
Full Bio
Urban Gamelan, 23 Skidoo
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