SLUG – Ripe (Memphis Industries)

Dirty electronica grooves and falsetto vocals

Released Apr 12th, 2015 via Memphis Industries / By Ian Stanley
SLUG – Ripe (Memphis Industries) Sunderland’s SLUG has created something that fuses electronics that would be at home in Blade Runner, with funk from sixties or the milky tit of ‘The Funk’. Consequently, it’s actually a struggle not to awkwardly gyrate or strut to this.

This funk and dirty electronic groove is frequent throughout at a number of songs on Ripe such as ‘Cockeyed Rabbit’, ‘Sha La La’ and ‘Greasy Mind'. There is a strange groove to many of these songs, but none so more than final song ‘At Least.’ Imagine a gothic, maudlin dancefloor set up for people in tight suits, hot gothic dresses and pencil moustaches. Almost like Clark or Bonobo teamed up with Soap & Skin. It’s gloriously awkward and dark as well as carefully produced.

Indeed, the song ‘Shake Your Loose Teeth’ feels like a call to arms for all those listening to the album. Almost strange that it should be one of the most chilled, light and airy of the songs on Ripe. But it is one of the most delicately produced on the album and really shows off SLUG’s chops as a producer.

However, Ian Black (A.K.A SLUG) is no novice at this music thing. Before he started calling himself SLUG – and who wouldn’t? – he was the bassist for fellow mackems Field Music. In fact, the Brewis brothers from Field Music have recently been accompanying him on tour.

SLUG, it seems, is well embedded into the North East’s music community. Not long ago Maximo Park were discussing the music scene in the North East and gave SLUG hefty mentions and praise. They used the artist to show how musicians in the North East often use each other, in what is a tight, collaborative music scene which often feels isolated from much of the UK, to look outwards and create their own sounds. It’s an interesting idea that this album is a result of SLUG consciously wanting to push away from what is right next to him. Often in the same live set.

Ripe isn’t completely pushed away from influences though. ‘Peng Peng’ borrows from the piano chord progression of Pink Floyd’s ‘Great Gig In The Sky’ – it’s so close at times that if Marvin Gaye’s estate was involved there would be an intellectual property lawsuit filed – but it comes off more as a homage rather than theft.

In the same way that Unknown Mortal Orchestra, with their own electronic grooves, dominated the alternative airwaves in 2014, SLUG will take 2015. The dirty electronica groove and falsetto vocals on ‘Cockeyed Rabbit,’ ‘Greasy Mind’ and ‘Shake Your Loose Teeth’ show enough evidence of where SLUG is headed. And sessions at Maida Vale as well as an invitation to be part of Marc Riley’s iPlayer show in the past month means the BBC are already hot on SLUG’s slippery groove.

Better get used to SLUG and settle in for the ride. There’s a good chance you’ll be hearing a fair bit of him. And don’t forget to gyrate.