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Empire / West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Kasabian

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Album Review

Most Kasabian albums are bloated pieces of work, having been created by some of the most self-assured, loudmouthed rockers since the Gallagher brothers. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is more demented than outsized, however, replacing the ego rock of Empire with a barmy blend of electronics, acoustics, horror movie ambience, and industrial psychedelia. Producer Dan the Automator adds touches of hip-hop to the mix, too, highlighting the band's rhythmic base by stripping back the layers of guitar and synth samples. The result is an interesting, unexpected piece of work, devoid of a militantly commercial single like Empire's self-titled track, and lacking the shaggy Madchester vibes that Christopher Karloff brought to 2004's Kasabian. If the band's eponymous debut was the soundtrack to a drug-filled night in England's trendiest club, then West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is the soundtrack to the subsequent walk home, when the club has kicked out its last patrons and the streets are dark and forbidding. There's enough psychedelia here to partially thwart the shadowy electronics — for every "Vlad the Impaler," there's a trippy counterpart like "Secret Alphabets" — and Kasabian often augments the new approach with old habits, like the dance-rock chorus that bisects the anxious, minimalist shuffle of "Fire." Most of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum canvasses unfamiliar territory, however, a wise move for a group has routinely struggled to escape the shadow of its influences.

Biography

Formed: 1999 in Leicester, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Kasabian took the British press by storm in the early 2000s by mixing traces of the Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Primal Scream with Oasis-sized confidence and DJ Shadow-influenced electronics. Named after Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson's getaway driver turned state witness, the Leicester-based group also stole a page from the Band by moving into a remote farmhouse to brew its music. Communal life and a slew of shared influences produced an electronic, rock-oriented sound that harked back to the...
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Empire / West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Kasabian
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