Friday, February 11, 2011
Shpongle - The God Particle (2011)
Let me paint a picture for you. An old man with a receding gray hairline frantically paces a dimly lit room. There's a look of intent in his eyes. Like he's onto something. "But we have to go beyond that, otherwise we can't crack what the particle is," he says, as he brings his right hand up and curls it into a fist, grasping for the point he's trying to make. He continues, "The particle is about acceleration so it has to be worked out mathematically. Here's how I see it...you guys will have to translate it..."
The particle in question is the Higgs Boson particle (sometimes called "the God Particle"), a hypothetical particle which, if it exists, would help resolve many of the major inconsistencies in Physics. The man in question is Raja Ram, a flute playing, DMT smoking, 50 something year old electronic musician. The above dialogue was taken from a clip of Raja Ram in the studio working with Shpongle member Simon Posford and producer Benji Vaughan from Prometheus. Raja Ram was speaking about Shpongle's latest project, the 16 minute EP "The God Particle", which is inspired by the work of scientists in Switzerland working with the groundbreaking Hadron Collider, a device which was built to help uncover this so called "God Particle". From Raja Ram's enthusiastic description of this new project, it's clear that the Hadron collider really gives him a Hardon. I think it's pretty cool too, but I'll spare you physics of it...because quite honestly it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.
I can speak about the final product though, which kicks off with a 6 minute track entitled "Before the Big Bang". The first thing you hear is a zipping sound, like a particle zipping through space maybe. (Actually, I think Shpongle achieved the sound by spinning a coin on a tambourine and then speeding it up...to some "mathematically" important speed, I'm sure. It's pretty cool though). The atmosphere starts to intensify until a thumping bass comes in, driving the track forward. Then the drums kick in, relieving the built up tension, and settle into a nice, half-time groove. From there we're off and cruising in Shpongleland.
If you wanted to listen to this track and draw parallels to the Big Bang and the Higgs Boson particle, I'm sure you could, as this was likely Shpongle's intent. That is, for the track to be some sort of time-warped experimental journey through space (or space-time, or whatever the fuck it is). We even get a brief interlude where a sample explains the Hadron Collider to the listener. I'm sure Raja Ram had some grand ambitions at this point with all his mathematically mapped out notes and what not. However, even with all this, I don't feel like "The God Particle" ever transcends into anything more than solid sounding, well-produced pystrance. Yes, the production is stellar, the bass is deep, the blips are blippy, and the overall sound is pleasing. But it's nothing near the religious experience that I hear other Shpongle heads go on about. For me, this is the kind of shit I like to listen to when I play Tetris Arena online, as its accelerating baseline pushes me to drop tetrimos faster and faster and faster! (I play tetris and you like men, call it even). But I don't feel like I've "unlocked" any "secrets hidden within me", as one person put it. In fact, I find Raja Ram's childlike enthusiasm for the EP a little silly, though it's great that he's passionate about his music. And I find some of the Shponglhead's responses ever sillier. Of course you're going to have a transcendental experience listening to Shpongle if you smoked DMT before hand, but that doesn't mean there's anything "embedded" within the music.
Bottom line: this is "cool stuff" but gtfo with your transcendental bullshit and go back to posting on ATS about contacting ancient aliens via the use of exotic amazonian shaman brews...or something...and excuse me while I work on my Triple T-spin combo...