When I was recently contacted in query of reviewing Bumbles then upcoming release ‘Biological Ripples,’ I was admittedly a bit confused. Truth be told it’s not the sort of email that my inbox normally receives, however it occurred to me that I’d make a link on these grounds to Bumbles new label, the burgeoning Shanti Planti collective, which has been making significant waves in the psychedelic electronic music community in recent years.
Circumstances of life prevented me from dedicating the necessary time to the album for a good while, however with patience personal tensions dissipated and I found myself in a state ready to receive such a curious release. Whilst my knowledge of Bumbles now extensive work has been somewhat limited, I have a certain fondness for his previous album ‘Symbiota,’ which has developed somewhat of a cult following for its evocative narrative on the lives of the humble bee, with it’s many tracks interspersed with short interludes detailing the symbiotic nature of life on our planet. Highly recommended listening on it’s ecological relevance alone.
Anyway, Biological Ripples it is, and what a fine collection of electroacoustic works it has turned out to be. Whilst distinctly similar to Bumbles previous works in style, it holds a firm grasp on his playful psychedelic flavouring yet manages a tremendous step forward in the desired production qualities and compositional skills. For the discerning fan of any artist, this is always something to embrace on both first and repeated listens.
Opener ‘Sun Don’t Know It’s a Star’ is a sweet and sensual warmup; trip hop inspired and of a low key jazzy nature. Following number ‘Flux’ continues the vibe with a gritty evolution in sound design and meter, adding a subtle swing and hard driven midrange layer, picking the percussive pace up as the track progresses. Further still, third track ‘Ebb & Flow’ pulls fresh tricks out of the bag, adding a brass section and busier melodic devices.
The style now well established, the albums middle is filled with playful variations on light hearted themes. Beefier numbers ‘Leave a Trace,’ ‘Shake Up,’ and ‘Keplunk!’ add a greater focus on low end theory, with cheeky yet grunty bass lines driving the way forward beneath harder hitting percussion and sprinklings of spicy brass and woodwind samples.
The remainder of the album seems a balanced fusion of it’s pre-established attributes, slowly winding down with curiously moody and sometimes downright weird explorations. Such is the nature of psychedelic music however, and Bumble pulls off these curiosities with a dynamic flair found few and far between in a genre often littered with releases which I find to wildly miss the mark.
‘Bee Here Now’ at times sounds as though it’s the results of some sort of improvised psychedelic freakout, held together by a peculiarly 90’s scented synth stab, and a gently tasteful brass lick. Successive number ‘Clear Vision’ seems aptly named, almost humorously as it plays around with it’s vibrato laden melodies. Wonderfully titled ‘Biological Solar Panels’ marks a return to a laid trip hop energy, yet rolls along nimbly courtesy of a distinctly drum and bass percussion layer. Album closer ‘Ecotone’ completes the cycle with a low tempo, spacing out with reverberant drenching and dissonance, pushing the albums harmonic experimentations to their limits.
Overall I’d consider Biological Ripples to be somewhat a curious release. Less of a statement than its predecessor, nevertheless it takes its form and guides it in a clear direction. It’s a wonderfully lazy album in the sense that it’d sit well by the fireside on a dreary winters day, but let that not fool you, it possesses a strong sense of movement and select tracks have the punch required to keep an open minded dance floor grooving. It’s as equally intellectual as it is invigorating, a duality I personally value in such a comprehensive release.
A masterpiece, perhaps not quite, but with musical preferences being so infinitely subjective I have no doubts that to some, this is quite something indeed. It’s certainly something special, and if the idea of playful melodic experimentation, jazzed up harmonies, and a healthy dose of dynamic range sounds like you, then this is a gritty piece of electronic fusion which I wholeheartedly recommend you give the time of day to.