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Funki Porcini - Fast Asleep

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Artist: Funki Porcini

Album: Fast Asleep

Label: Ninja Tune

Review date: Apr. 15, 2003

On the Cusps

We must be a Prozac nation. It seems musicians are convinced there are feathers to smooth, anxieties to palliate. Albums routinely arrive in my mailbox with the aim to put me to sleep, knock me out, or sit at my bedside and hold my hand during my nocturnal wanderings. Some are full of drowsy drones sublime in their balance of the heavy and the fragile; others are horribly ordinary and just plain dull.

Funki Porcini’s Fast Asleep, a trademark Ninja Tune release, completely captures the minutiae of shifting patterns within sleep – the hiccups and snorts and stops and starts and highs and lows, all anchored by a deep tide of ambience that continually clears the sand for new patterns to be drawn. The shifts are tiny, almost imperceptible, and masterful. Fast Asleep departs little from the tried and true stony trip-hop sound that characterized the best and freshest of Ninja Tune before the sound became pervasive. And yet, within that somewhat limited downtempo framework, Funki Porcini almost imperceptibly slips in sleights of hand, shifts in mood that alter colors and textures instantaneously, masterfully.

"The Big Sea" rolls from a burst of downtempo beats with nice strings and adorning effects to a funkier bit made up of petite yelps. Ambience than washes over before churning into a shuffling, quietly messy break. Nothing stays still for very long, and though the entire mood of the piece turns on a dime, the changes are hardly startling. Throughout the song, the ambience pushes and pulls, hurries and drags. The slow head nodder of "We’re Out of Here" is bottomed out with a disjointed bass kick that drifts to and from a mild Pink Floyd-esque psychedelia. And "New Dope’s" nitroused-up voice drawls, stutters, and hangs in a way that conveys barely conscious intoxication so much better than the common reverbed vocal loop.

Fast Asleep is mild and pulls no fast punches, but if "The Great Drive By" is any indication, Funki Porcini still knows how to build his songs from disparate pieces of sound into something at once soothing and shifty, angular and subtle. The resulting sound is nothing particularly new and definitely rooted in the irony-free, earnestly stoned aesthetic of a couple of years ago, but at the same time, the album is completely well done without sounding anachronistic.

By Selena Hsu

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