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Tudor AcidMerri Portland
Apparently Richard Wigglesworth, the 303-meister behind this oddball collection of acid ditties, was driven to create it having grown up near Henry VIII's country house. I can't really connect the rave with the Tudors as a concept and I'd imagine any king of olde England would have been rather perplexed by the idea as well, but I'm not going to argue. Anyway... being a traditional sort of chap, I generally grumble at 20+ tracks on a single disc. Whilst there may be a lot of ideas on show, not enough of them are explored substantially. This is certainly about the only criticism I can find to level at Merri Portland though, as the ideas are generally well executed.
Opener Base Introder is a rhythmically confusing affair with bass of considerable depth and a woozy carousel melody, perhaps not the most engaging way to kick things off but it sets the stall out early — the most obvious influences here are actually from a far more recent history, that of classic UK IDM, braindance and acid techno. From here on in, Wigglesworth mixes up the tempos and moods in such a frenetic way that it's difficult to detect a linear plot to the whole affair, but there are gems here — College Chronic builds palpable acid tension that threatens to explode into serious violence, the drunkenly euphoric vibe of Raynor Lounge and the pseudo-Aphex warblings of Pastoral being the main highlights. However, it's in the shorter tracks where the disappointments lie — being that they should be longer. The joyful piano of Ethereal and the album's most spatial moments Epiece and Twilight are all first rate electronica, but sadly, like some of Henry's many wives they are cut short in their prime, heads chopped off at the neck. We can only hope that if there is to be a new King Richard at the throne of UK electronica, he will be a little more forgiving of his charges next time round.