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Cellar Door

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Album Review

Idjut Boys, the London duo of Dan Tyler and Conrad McDonnell, have been movers and shakers among the more fashionably nonconformist wings of the dance music world for well on two decades — as producers and label heads, but perhaps most notably as disc jockeys — but they had never, exactly, made a full-length album prior to 2012. At least, that's what they contend, although it seems like splitting some of the finer hairs of release taxonomy (apparently, 1998's Noid Full Length, and their multiple LPs under the Phantom Slasher moniker, don't qualify for the designation because they included previously released material, and 1999's Life: The Shoeing You Deserve, perhaps, because it was a collaborative effort with Quakerman). In any case, Cellar Door, named for/with what some allege to be the most beautiful phrase in the English language, definitely makes good on the euphonious promise of its title, if not entirely on the duo's waggish disco-not-disco reputation. It's actually much closer in spirit to Desire Lines, Tyler and McDonnell's 2009 album as Meanderthals (a trio with Rune Lindbaek), although it's not quite as languidly sleepy as that set. What is here is a lovely and amiable 38 minutes of lounge-ready chill-out music that pretty much epitomizes the "Balearic" aesthetic: lots of lusciously chunky acoustic guitars (and fluttery, soft-focus electrics), simmeringly slow tempos, burbling barely there beats, and warm, reverb-soaked everything. It's a dubby one, for sure, and it's also surprisingly non-electronic for a couple of guys who don't play instruments. Turns out they just enlisted a bunch of friends to play them instead, including Norwegian pianist Bugge Wesseltoft and U.K. acid jazzers A Man Called Adam (whose Sally Rodgers also contributes her sultry, clear-eyed vocals to three of the album's standouts, especially the gorgeous "Going Down.") Things get a touch more active on "One for Kenny," a crinkly, funky amble with some meaty, gospel-touched piano work, while the organ-thick skank of "Le Wasuk" gets mildly, playfully "out" toward the end, but there's basically nothing here to make you work up a sweat, although it would all serve well to soundtrack other sweat-inducing activities (such as, for instance, lying by the pool.) While Cellar Door will definitely come across as too smooth for certain palates — probably even for some fans of Idjut Boys' more dance-oriented material — it is an undeniably classy affair that's all the more impressive for maintaining a commitment to unabashedly lush prettiness while somewhat miraculously avoiding any hint of schmaltz. Now bring on the disco edits! ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi


Formed: London, England

Genre: Dance

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

Dan Tyler and Conrad McDonnell, aka Idjut Boys, are an English duo whose dub-heavy house tracks incorporate their playful sense of humor. With titles like "Frogs Arrrse" and Life: The Shoeing You Deserve, it's clear that Tyler and McDonnell keep the pressure and often seriousness of the hectic music industry in perspective. Tyler and McDonnell met in the late '80s in Cambridge while Conrad was working as a lifeguard and McDonnell was studying at university. Both men met at Brighton's Tonka night...
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Cellar Door, Idjut Boys
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