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Ark - Caliente

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Artist: Ark

Album: Caliente

Label: Perlon

Review date: Jul. 5, 2005

French producer Ark, a.k.a. Guillaume Beroyer, is one of the funniest house artists around. He seems peculiarly averse to taking himself seriously, which is probably a blessing. Beroyer’s music is scattered, messy and off-balance, full of hilarious vocal snippets that hover on just the wrong side of paranoiac ranting.

These moments are dotted all the way through Caliente. The religious and gospel broadsides he drops in tracks like “Preacher” offer comical caricatures of organised religion, just as the queasy samples of the “swing low, sweet chariot” gospel chant on earlier singles were a strange, sea-sick mutation of religious singing. (You can catch a hint of this at the very end of “Sweet Rime.”) The best tracks on Caliente cleave to a similar woozy sense of sublime.

Beroyer can also go the distance if need be – check “Eigil,” where he essays a tetchy, energetic lattice of micro-edited sighs and grunts, pitch-shifted snatches of text. At one point, a sick-sounding protagonist repeatedly expels “hug-him” from his voicebox as if coughing the words up from his lungs. Beroyer’s productions aren’t rapturous like Todd Edward’s careful stitching of micro-edits – rather, a track like “Eigil” is on edge, unable to maintain its poise. Jamie Lidell’s guest appearance, signing a love-song to R2D2, is as confusing and dryly humorous as you hope. Who would have guessed the world needed to hear Lidell sing in his most earnest soul scat “I’m searching for a tin can to call my own?”

By Jon Dale

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