REVIEW: SCHiLLiNG – Last Future

Trip-hop.  A peculiar pastime involving rabbits and tiny snares.  Also a fusion of acid, hip-hop and ambient. Both, thought Messrs. Pseudo and Nym, were forever confined to a dustier and less RSPCA-friendly corner of their library.  Yet Ludovico Schilling, the eponymous and textually indecisive SCHiLLiNG, and his new LP Last Future have had them reminiscing about a time before Bonobo.  When step did not always follow dub and the youth of the day could distinguish between Portishead and an otherwise unremarkable town on the river Tyne.

Last Future begins with ‘Loneliness’.  The kind that one would feel trapped in a darkened room with only a tambourine and wooden block for company.  But the similarities with both John Hopkin’s ‘Immunity’ and Monsieur Nym’s school days end when the beat kicks back – too languid to kick in – and trip follows hop.

 Out of this dark and quite frankly sinister opening, ‘Crudivore’ emerges.  Like a Brooklyn speakeasy, an echo of edge and smooth jazz chords combine with the same beat, Aphex Twin‘s Windowlicker taking a quiet moment to enjoy a cigarillo. 

Elephantine horns, thundering percussion and some manner of kazoo-like instrument were not exactly what Messrs. Pseudo and Nym expected next but so began ‘Nisha’, the sort of track that Amon Tobin might listen to if you forced him at assegai-point to cross the Serengeti. 

 ‘Ego Trip’ sounded a bit like a theremin pining for a lost love – or was it a cover of Hawkwind?  ‘Are You Having A Bubble’ sounded a lot like a trumpet fleeing the unwanted advances of an obese bass line and ‘The Priest’ was a sermon that just refused to drop.  All in all, Last Future seems bound together rather loosely by the motto “And Now For Something Completely Different”.

 But this is to forget the pervading trip-hop influence, acknowledged – albeit tongue firmly in cheek – by the brilliant ‘Bristol Pistol’.  Not so much a nod as a full swan-dive towards the spiritual home and origins of trip-hop, frivolity aside it is pure syncopated bliss.  Ambient chords and a beat that refused to resolve had Monsieur Nym shuffling uneasily across the hearthrug, like a rabbit traversing a minefield.

 Which leaves ‘When it comes to six’ (chortle), playing like an outro to a tripped up Western – Screwball’s ‘Kaktus Spike’ without the bounce and as Last Future disappeared over the sunset, Messrs. Pseudo and Nym could not help but think that here was music for the mind.  By remaining heavy on the beat and light on the melody SCHiLLiNG creates music that enchants, that causes us to wonder, that forces us to contemplate something.  Maybe this is just a hangover from his past gigs as a sound engineer for fashion shows and art installations.  But Last Future seems still to be music for an occasion, rather than music in itself (though this is far from a criticism).

 SCHiLLiNG will not be everybody’s cup of tea. It might be a harder sell to those brought up on Skrillex and cans of Monster rather than Tetley’s and Massive Attack.  But Messrs. Pseudo and Nym will be watching his future progress with great interest.  Run rabbit run, as they say.

Written by Messrs. Pseudo and Nym