Review of Solitude Album by Kosheen

There is an old saying about striking whilst the iron is hot; perhaps its derivation is too archaic for it to have too much gravitas in the 21st century music world, but if we were to say something like 'grab opportunity by the throat', then surely it'd mean the same thing for the right now people.

Kosheen Solitude Album

Kosheen - who are Bristolians Darren "Decoder" Beale, Markee "Substance" Davies and the unmonikered singer Sian Evans - should be familiar with the idea of keeping momentum or, more accurately, how to lose it. If the name is now unfamiliar, those with memories that stretch back to the start of the century might recall when, combining the aesthetics of drum 'n' bass with Evans' soulful pipes, the trio made a name for themselves with the likes of 'Hide U'. The accompanying album 'Resist' and its successor 'Kokopelli' both made the top 10, but proved to be their high water mark commercially.

Having flirted with both club and rock sounds over the subsequent years, it seemed that at times there was something of an uncertainty about their chosen musical direction. In its, defence 'Solitude' is far from a victim of that type of confusion, but the listener may find it hard to escape the feeling of remoteness, with the admittedly slick programming failing to compensate for Evans' rusty howl being mysteriously kept on a tight leash.

At times, in fact, it's not even present at all; bass led tracks such as 'And Another' and 'I' serving as reminders of Bristol's place at the forefront of dubstep, but failing to maximise on Kosheen's one unique facet in Evans. As if they're trying to prove to themselves what the art of the possible is, the same kind of approach, except with the singer smouldering archetypally over the tightly reined beats, reaps on '745' almost completely different results, this time in the plus column.

It seems almost trite to say it, but 'Solitude''s two finest efforts are both lessons from the old twentieth century school of electronic music. Here the breaks of 'Observation' and its gossamer, jazzy vocal inflections roll back the years to the mid-nineties era that was D&B's finest hour, whilst the title track lives in the same day but, by contrast, is a pseudo trip-hop classic in waiting, full of skeletal desolation and remorse. In these moments, you wonder what might have happened if Kosheen had continued to seek enlightenment in more familiar territory. There are occasional sparks here, but rarely any chance of 'Solitude' catching fire.  

Andy Peterson



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