Slugabed: Time Team Review

Slugabed, a.k.a. Greg Feldwick, is twenty three and hails all the way from that remote and mysterious city of Bath. But now he’s arrived in London town, bringing with him a cascade of analogue style sounds and drum machine crazies all packaged sweetly together in the wonderful weirdness of his debut album Time Team.

But where to start in describing this? For starters Slugabed’s production is immediately refreshing, bucking the dance inspired trend for massive side chained kick drums and snares that obscure the rest of the track. Emphasis is instead placed on the spasmodic yet swirling sonic textures Feldwick wraps his magical music in.

This is oft cut through by the odd monster bass line, though songs don’t stray into formulaic as they evolve along typically strange Ninja Tune tangents. All of which makes me highly curious about Feldwick’s composing process.

Does he simply mash buttons until an interesting track somehow emerges in key, or has he developed his own crazy formula for composing songs? Perhaps I’ve just not worked Mr Slugabed out yet.

My favourite track on the record is Mountains Come Out Of The Sky, which has the most wonderful, slowly evolving synth hook mixed with someone singing unintelligibly in that good way and topped off with a weird drum swing that confuses your inner rhythm.

With its slightly detuned brass lead and distinct FM bass line Grandma Paints Nice veers a little into 16 bit Megadrive game soundtracks territory, while It’s When The Future Falls Plops On Your Head sounds like a musically malfunctioning telephone.

And then there’s Earth Claps, featuring all cool cowbell swing grooving underneath staccato brass stabs and the big claps that no doubt gave the track its name.

Time Team is a pretty progressive record, often teasing with a cool sonic idea before leaving you high and dry as it sets off on its own musical tangent. There you stand, wondering where that badass bass line went, but that’s ok.

Slugabed has built something warm and organic out of a purely digital soundscape, an endearing mix of quirky, sometimes cheerful, sometimes melancholy noise. Think lots of Junoesque symphonic brass tones, which you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever pointed your ears toward the eighties.

I think by its very nature though this album is going to weed out a lot of listeners. Many will be enchanted by the nostalgic sounds and sheer fun and playfulness of this album. I know I am.

Others won’t like the lack of clearly defined rhythm or intelligible vocals on most tracks, and detractors will definitely object to bass lines that occasionally hide in the musically complex, multilayered synth party that is the core of Greg’s sound.

It’s not easy to compare Slugabed to anyone or anything else, but so far I’ve got him pinned as either a radical update to the film soundtracks of the eighties or a guy writing trippy music for videogames no-one has the balls to release.

And he’s not playing in the sandbox with anybody else.

Jack Oughton

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May 2012
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