Lilacs & Champagne, the project of Grails' Emil Amos and Alex Hall, is built on warped samples and scorched guitar solos, creating a playful, psychedelic take on damaged funk and pop. The duo's 2012 self-titled debut suggested a template for a new kind of psychotic mood music, and the follow up, 'Danish & Blue,' manages to be both darker and more ambitious. "Lilacs & Champagne was created to be a direct tribute to the musical outsiders of the past" says Hall.
Made up of sounds sourced from Scandinavian porn and hyper-obscure b-movies from the late '60s, 'Danish & Blue' pulls from records other DJs wouldn't touch by strategy. "We want to twist the knife as far as it can go into sample-based methodology, by taking pieces of loner music history and empowering them to shed light on both the pathetic side of human life and its improbable beauty." says Amos.
Mid-album cut "Hamburgers & Tangerines" is built on moody keys and a subterranean groove that recalls both sleazy cop movies and cathartic late night revelations. 'Danish & Blue' is an album that is disinterested in boundaries, unafraid to pull from every genre imaginable in service of a specific mood: from a dark lounge slither, to frustrated down-tempo, to wailing proggy guitar rock. It feels at once like a deeply personal journey through cultural ephemera and neon-lit samples that are collaged together so seamlessly that they're able to walk the border between tasteful and tacky with abandon.
It's hard to pull off such a cohesive mood piece from found sources, but Amos and Hall are so clearly in love with the sampled material that it never feels anything but natural. Title track "Danish & Blue" is all digital chaos and hyper-compressed drums, with the duo creating machine funk from vintage synth samples and expertly placed streaks of guitar. It's knowing but visceral, tongue-in-cheek but dead serious about mining unexpected and disparate places for golden moments. On the too-brief "Sour/Sweet," the duo crafts low-key beauty from stuttered drums and a distant, looped vocal sample that slowly teases out over warm vinyl crackle and piano. You feel like it should last forever.
UK and European live dates to be announced shortly.
1. Metaphysical Transitions
3. Le Grand
4. Better Beware
5. Alone Again and...
6. Police Story
7. Hamburgers & Tangerines
8. Honest Man
9. Refractory Period
10. Danish & Blue
11. Metaphysical Transitions II
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The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.