CD Review of 11i by Supreme Beings of Leisure
Recommended if you like
Morcheeba, Portishead, Massive Attack
Label
Ryko
Supreme Beings of Leisure:
11i

Reviewed by Jim Washington

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W
hen my wife walked into the room while Supreme Beings of Leisure’s new album was playing, she commented “sounds like the soundtrack to a James Bond movie.” True enough, although they appear to prefer the motto “sexy sounds for sexy people.”

The group’s long-delayed third album, 11i, could certainly serve as a backdrop to a new Bond flick, or any other Euro-gangster movies, for that matter. Just imagine Sienna Miller slinking around in the middle of the dance floor in “Layer Cake,” taking a drag off a cigarette and making eyes at Daniel Craig. Any of these 11 tracks could be playing in the background.

Programmer and instrumentalist Ramin Sakuri and singer Geri Soriano-Lightwood have collaborated on two albums since their 2000 self-titled debut, and have been silent since 2002’s follow-up, Divine Operating System. The group’s stock in trade is mellow, atmospheric beats with Soriano-Lightwood’s seductive vocals floating along on top, and they bring more of the same here. They represent dizzyingly diverse backgrounds – Japanese, Puerto Rican, Irish, Indian, Iranian and Dominican, to name a few – but this isn’t world music. There’s a strictly Euro feel to ethereal tracks such as “The Light,” “Angelhead” and “This World.”

Things start off easy listening, but then the group kicks in some welcome drum-and-bass to the mix on harder tracks “Mirror” and “Good.” Albums like this are more about the vibe than the lyrics, but a few themes jump out. In “The Light” Soriano-Lightwood sings “The hills aflame behind me, as ash seeps through my window,” apparently based on her experience during a forest fire around her home near Big Bear Lake, California in 2004.

The moody “Swallow” seems like a straightforward dart at the drug use in dance culture -- “Take another swallow, lean back and disappear / One to fill the hollow, one to make you clear / One to hide the mess, and one to keep me running.” If that sounds like they’ve been reading a lot of Daniel Pinchbeck, you’re right.

The second half of the album slips into a bit of a trance, while the lyrics get all metaphysical on that ass. But by that point, who’s listening to the words anyway? Groove is in the heart, and they’ve got it.

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