CD Review of Dive Deep by Morcheeba
Recommended if you like
Portishead, Sneaker Pimps, UNKLE
Label
Ultra
Morcheeba: Dive Deep

Reviewed by Jim Washington

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D
ance collective Morcheeba’s latest effort, Dive Deep, comes off less as a cohesive album and more like a mellowed-out mix tape. The veteran trip-hoppers – English brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey are the group‘s backbone – this time around work with several different singers and rappers (some apparently hired through MySpace) in a mélange of styles.

The brothers Godfrey parted ways with vocalist Skye Edwards after their fourth album, Charango, and worked with temporary singer Daisey Martey of Noonday Underground on the next album, The Antidote. With Dive Deep, they’ve made it clear that they are now a more fluid musical collective, working with whoever they want whenever they want.

Longtime fans may miss Edwards’ voice, but for the most part, the stable of new singers acquit themselves well on material that was created under a pall of deep depression after the death of a family member.

That’s not to say the album is a complete downer.

“Run Honey Run,” a song by Scottish singer/songwriter John Martyn, is an interesting experiment which blends Ryan Adams-type balladry with beat scratching. On “One Love Karma,” rapper Cool Calm Pete (a moniker not exactly designed to intimidate street rivals) lays it down smoothly over a bed of jazzy riffs and something he calls “flute boxing,” or beat boxing through a flute. All righty then.

French singer Manda croons in her native tongue over a lovely acoustic groove on “Au-Dela,“ while Thomas Dybdahl from Norway creates an otherworldly vocal feel (Paul Godfrey compares him to “Roy Orbison on smack”) on “Riverbed” and “Sleep on It Tonight.” The vibe here can get so laid-back at times that you may need some of the weed which gives the band its name to really enjoy it. (I should add I have no idea if the band’s name is actually a reference to Tone Loc’s slang for marijuana, but it’s certainly the first thing that springs to mind whenever I hear it. I have a feeling that fact-checking this would only ruin things).

The album, which employs a nice watery motif throughout, ends on a hopeful note, with Dybdahl singing “the pain and the sorrow that you felt will be washed away, like droplets of doubt and despair from yesterday.” The musical results of all this variety are sometimes uneven, but not damningly so. It’s perfect music to have on in the background while, say, you’re doing stuff around the house on a rainy day.

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