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Lilacs & Champagne – Midnight Features vol. 1: Shower Scene EP (2014)

11-04-2014, 12:54
Alternative | FLAC / APE

Lilacs & Champagne – Midnight Features vol. 1: Shower Scene EP (2014)

Artist: Lilacs & Champagne
Title Of Album: Midnight Features vol. 1: Shower Scene EP
Year Of Release: 2014
Label: Mexican Summer
Genre: Alternative Rock
Quality: FLAC (tracks)
Bitrate: Lossless
Total Time: 23:41
Total Size: 144 mb


1. Lilacs & Champagne - Shower Scene (2:24)
2. Lilacs & Champagne - Le Grand (Brooklyn Bridge version) (4:12)
3. Lilacs & Champagne - The Door (3:51)
4. Lilacs & Champagne - Sensations (Corpse On the Beach version) (4:42)
5. Lilacs & Champagne - Maple St. (2:36)
6. Lilacs & Champagne - Cinemaxx (5:56)

For all the themes and inspirations that Lilacs & Champagne claim that produced this record, it’s really the music that counts. What if two guys from rockers Grails decided to make a record inspired by background music from ’70s TV shows? The answer would be “so what if?” if there wasn’t some decent music to back it up.
There’s actually not that much of a leap from the instrumental rock music made by Emil Amos and Alex Hall in Grails to what the duo are doing with Lilacs & Champagne, especially here on Midnight Features vol 1: Shower Scene. The grooves were always there; Kraut, psych and stoner inspired riffs and on the excellent Black Tar Prophecies Vol. 4,5 and 6 a record on which the sampling took slightly more of a centre stage: fucked-up gospel snippets, garbled radio transmission and bible quotes lent the album a cinematic edge, furthered by some of the Morricone-flecked flights of fancy. Here on Midnight Features, the medicated fuzziness is replaced by a funkier groove and what seems to be an urge to embrace the immediate instead of the slowly-unfolding, perhaps mirroring the TV drama of the ’70s where a story would be told and concluded in half an hour to an hour rather than 12 or 13 episodes.

Although opening track ‘Shower Scene’ actually uses that 21st century trick of opening mid-scene, as we’re dropped into the sound of DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist’s crate-digging for beats combined with some laid-back live acoustic guitar to create a slightly sleazy soundtrack to moustachioed seduction. There’s elastic bass and soporific saxophone to add into the mix as well, and it really does sound straight out of the ’70s. The trick that Lilacs & Champagne pull off here (and elsewhere) is blurring the lines between the sampled and the live; everything has a vinyl crackle laid over it and this smart moves makes sure there’s no jarring between the methods.

There’s more of an intensity to ‘Le Grand (Brooklyn Bridge version)’: stabs of organ and live drums provide a languid base for rather absurd jazz-rock soloing and you can picture the camera panning over street-lit New York, finally zooming in on our protagonist’s car as he or she cruises through motherless Brooklyn. ‘The Door’ is more of an atmospheric affair, combining female vocal samples, loops and live drums for something that’s basically instrumental hip-hop, while ‘Sensations’ starts with tinkling Rhodes piano and subsequently dazzles with frantic jazz drumming and psych rock guitar explorations: messy, yet fascinating all the same.

Closing track ‘Cinemaxx’ is as close to a ’70s cop show theme tune as you’re likely to hear; we’re talking close-ups of Karl Malden and Michael Douglas patrolling those Streets of San Francisco as the drummer flies off the handle and the brass players wail uncontrollably in the background, or Barney Miller’s Hal Linden if he’d taken a darker turn and dropped the comedy for some Popeye Doyle action.

Basically, what Amos and Hall have managed here with Lilacs & Champagne is create a period piece that doesn’t feel dated, thanks to a mix of digital and analogue processes. Yes, it may have a short shelf life and the overriding feeling is that it’s an exercise in fun rather than creating a lasting piece of “art”…but Midnight Features is a lively and engaging experience for as long as the good times last.

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