on 9 November 2009
This is the fifth or so attempt at writing a review for this album and I feel I just can't do it justice with mere words. Shpongle's music is so beautiful and wonderfully weird that I don't think any series of adjectives can summaries what an amazing record this. I guess Indian, classical and chillout are a few words I could use but the justice comes from hearing it running through a high end sound system. The details are so intricate and finely honed, I could listen to this 20 times and still feel I wanted to know it better.
I love all of Shpongle's music and like all their albums it's different to their last but all I can say is buy it, put it on and get Shpongled (don't download it as crappy MP3s have such degraded sound quality). You won't be disappointed.
And buy it for your family and friends as well coz they will love you.
Oh and the live DVD of their Roundhouse show in 08 is out and absolutly brilliant as well.
on 18 April 2011
While I believe Shpongle can do no wrong, I like to consider myself an unbiased listener; if Shpongle release a bad product, I'll not shy from acknowledging it. For example, I feel 'Tales Of The Inexpressible', while featuring some of Shpongle's best work such as 'Dorset Perception', would have been more enjoyable with better segways between tracks, and I resented their decision to split tracks up quite so much on 'Nothing Last... But Nothing Is Lost'.
'Ineffable Mysteries' has been singled out by a lot of people as the point where Shpongle have 'lost their magic', and are recycling old ideas. I disagree vehemently with this view. While the three other Shpongle LPs are extremely diverse, this one draws on all of them. This, combined with the clean-cut mixes and typically stellar production gives this album a feeling of absolute refinement, as though Shpongle are beginning to accept their rightful place as the Kings of psychedelic electronic music.
I believe anyone who likes Shpongle's previous work but is unimpressed with this effort simply needs to spend more time with it. If you are new to Shpongle, start at the beginning with 'Are You Shpongled?', which remains my favourite of their releases and gets brought out practically every time I am Shpongled.
Shpongle's music has never felt like it came from this world, and this album is the one to take you to where it comes from: Shpongleland.
Did I mention that they finally got their hands on a Hang Drum?
on 5 December 2009
I've been shpongled. Yes it's true and I don't believe I've never heard of this band. I came to this really by checking out infected mushroom stuff (let's not get confused before we start - shpongle sound nothing like I. M.). You know how it goes, you start with one thing, but then you start musing the cyberspatial racks of amazon and think ok, I'll give that a go.
Now one of the previous reviewers have already pointed out that there are a number of obvious influences here (ozrics, gong etc), but I don't think that this is a detriment to the sound. The first track, electroplasm, sounds as though it has escaped from ozrics' strangeitude album, but then the album starts to develop a life of its own. The second track, Shpongelese spoken here, then moves into space dub/trance. The album then moves into melodic electronica with an ambient edge, in some places reminding you of William Orbit.The fourth track has some hypnotic beats mixed with a trancey indian vocal adding that extra depth, but this also reminds me of ultramarine in places, especially around the my kingdom time, making me wonder if there was any connection. But I must say that I absolutely adore this album. And I know that if you write a review, most people state that they like the material that they have bought, but I bought this on a pure whim and was pleasantly surprised. I mean the name gives nothing away, and is quite silly , but like i said this is a really good album and well worth buying.
Shpongle in this incarnation are, substantially :
Simon Ponsford/producer, programmer, multi-instrumentalist
and singer and Raja Ram/co-producer, flutes and vocals.
Their sonic visions are given further flesh by an additional
small group of talented guest singers and musicians.
'Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland' is a big bundle of fun.
Carefully crafted but artfully abandoned
musical madness of the finest pedigree.
It's very hard to keep still in its company.
Not since hearing Prem Joshua's marvellous 2003 album
'Shiva Moon' can I remember having enjoyed an East/West
collaborative synthesis as much. (Hear it if you can!)
The eight compositions in this new collection are so
packed with exciting thematic material that the album
can barely contain itself!
The beats are big and highly addictive.
After its ambiguous street-sound introduction 'Electroplasm'
opens out into an expansive and densely layered arrangement
shot through with beguiling synth and flute interventions.
The vocal treatments, both here and elsewhere, are also
highly effective in their willful strangeness.
'Spongolese Spoken Here' starts with a tangled and tattered
maelstrom of fragmented rhythmic ideas before settling down
into a stonking great groove. The more mellow dubsteppy
central section frames a deliciously inventive guitar solo.
'Ineffable Mysteries' sounds like a big jam at a party
in the clouds. Mr Ram's fluid flute playing is charming.
The cleverly deconstructed vocals are the icing on a
very wierd and wonderful cake!
'Invisible Man In A Flourescent Suit' is an utterly
magical experience. The gently pulsing chords, twittering
electronic birdsong and disembodied female voice
are enchanting. A veritable Garden Of Dreams.
The loping ensemble ostinato of the second subject serves
as a highly effective backdrop for some more fine
The verbal exchange in the final bars speaks volumes!
Michele Adamson sings very sweetly on 'No Turn Un-Stoned'.
Final track 'Walking Backwards Through The Cosmic Mirror'
(don't you just love these guys!) is full of light and
shade and nebulous imaginings.
A world apart but happy and giggling!
I was unable to identify one dull moment in this
joyously barmy project. Good job guys! Good job!!
on 7 July 2011
This album showed up in my Recommended section, but one of the reviews already warned that this was no actual Indo fusion, a melting of ideas, yet more a melting of sounds and flavours. But already I was intrigued by the cover, knowing the exact place in Alwar where the pic was shot. Sometimes you should let your heart do the talking and not your brains: the India connection was there and a week or so later the inner artwork surprised me with more unusual places I've once stood. And yes, this was no Indo-fusion; some tracks have no eastern connection at all, others just through field recordings. But call it what you may - electro, ambient, beats, psychedelica - to me it is all of that, and a worthwhile sound experience. Repeated listening reveals lots of intricate layers, the liner notes giving clues to what you hear, while use of voices and acoustic instruments prevent it from becoming sterile. No Turn Un-Stoned is the closest they come to an actual song and is my favourite. Ineffable Mysteries, Indian spiced, a close second. Surprise, surprise, one half of the band is Raja Ram of the seventies relic Quintessence I own LP's by and once even saw live. Another cosmic connection, closing the circle?
If you are in for Indian time scales, riffs and acoustic sounds, the Bombay Dub Orchestra is more your thing. Open-minded enough for a sonic trip, than treat yourself to Shpongle.
on 2 November 2009
For all those people who got the chance to see Shpongle live either at The Roundhouse for Halloween 2008, Moscow December 2008 or at Ozora 2009 or anywhere else certain tracks on this new album with already be familiar, certainly a trip that Simon Postford made to India has been some inspiration to the general feel of this new work by Shpongle, especially when Simon Postford was interviewed saying that he liked to keep it as a trilogy and this in true Gong tradition is the fourth episode of that trilogy. However Gong actually have a mythology and a concept behind all their absurdity, it is delivered with a distinct sense of humour. 'Ineffiable Mysteries from Shpongleland' is a much more serious and dare we say spiritual beast. From the very cover to the concept Shpongleland seems to be much more of the mythological Borges landscape of "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius". Certainly the cover of the CD presents a spiritual netherworld where levitation is possible rather resembling India. The music which Shpongle fans have waited over three years for bears close comparison to Sploosh by Ozric Tentacles both in sound and tempo. With this as a structure and some of those old goth guitars resembling 'The Cure' which were evident on 'Last Days of Gravity' by 'Younger Brother' Simon Postford has been adding more guitar to the mix and there is certainly more flute work from Raja Ram than the previous album. Conceptually it all hangs together with there being little or no breaks in the music and plays like 'Nothing Lasts... But Nothing is Lost' as one continuous track. The album however feels like it is in two distinct halves as the first side is more more instrumental so it is really a combination of the first Shpongle album 'Are You Shpongled? reaching highs toward the end and the the second record 'Tales of the Inexpressible' where a song based grand ending of 'Once Upon a Sea of Blissful Awareness' and 'Around the world in a Tea Daze' made for a satisfying listen. The end is closer to 'And the Day Turned into Night' with more unfocussed electronica.
There are some nice moments to this record and all their work takes a few listens to get into. You are after a few listens left feeling that the tracks, there are only 8 and the shortest clocks in at over six minutes are a bit drawn out unnecessarily. So this makes it feel like there is more filler in there than there should be, it is not necessarily taking you to a higher plain, let alone to Shpongleland, which conceptually from the lyrics seem to describe a place where you would want to visit, but you might need to be cautious as you could lose your mind. At certain points things start with a massive breakdown to build the tune up to the bit where the tune actually kicks in. This is effective on one or two tracks but not all the tracks.
The album opens with samples of noise and chatter probably in India and then goes off into a rather nice Ozrics type throbbing groove complete with middle eastern guitar riffing and even some kind of sitar mix with what sounds like samba percussion toward the end of the track, I will let you be the judge whether that works and complete with a sample of 'Freddie' from 'Big Brother'. The next track is a bit more of a reggae number, for those who saw them live the Hang drum makes an appearance again on 'Nothing is Something Worth Doing'. Probably the best track not including the opener for me is the title track 'Ineffable Mysteries' which has a great sampled Indian vocal and builds well, there is some influence of minimal use of the Cello like Phillip Glass or Steve Reich. Track 5 'I am You' seems to be the opener of the second half of the album this is closer to 'Divine Moments of Truth' off the first Shpongle record. It has been quite a popular live favourite with it's easy to sing chorus although stolen directly from You by Gong. Certainly this and 'No Turn Unstoned' seem to be more more poppy as tunes there is some nice flute playing on the latter track and then the album ends with some sort of electronic drift piece sounding more like something off 'Warp Records' than from Shpongle, there are these nuances of other music creeping into the Shpongle sound. The ethnic world fusion is certainly much more pronounced, but there is lots of awkward electronics, distorted electronic voices and other sound effects. It sounds like it has been recorded with more depth than previous Shpongle works, but at the same time reading the sleevenotes the album has been put together processing some rather random and conceptual found sounds. It is nice to see that another good album has been produced and that previous work can inspire a new project without it sounding like more of the same. I am sure Shpongle fans are going to love it and rave and drool about it. I am a huge fan of Shpongle but I still do not feel on reflection that Shpongle have created their masterpiece album. 'Nothing Lasts...But Nothing is Lost' came close and there are great moments on all their albums but they are not always consistently good, there are always one or two tracks per album that do not quite make the grade. There is nothing that stands out on this recording as bad but as I said earlier there is this feeling of it being much more long winded an experience listening to it. Had they had more material and shortened a few of their tracks to fit new tracks in it might have been their masterpiece. Whatever happened to the Psy Trance track that Shpongle had written which was 137 bpm?
on 5 April 2013
Fantastic album! The first time I heard any music by shpongle was when I saw them play live which was an amazing experience, and listening to this album brings back great memories. A lot of time and effort have gone into this album and it draws on many influences from different cultures around the world. Definitely recommended.
on 24 June 2010
I feel like this is the best album to date!
ok the other albums are great! as well but as this is a much more rounded out album, and I dont skip any songs.
I just love this album, the amount of skill in the production is superb. My fave song is all of them. keep bringing the heat shpongle, just a thought I listen to this with high resolution headphones sounds awesome sony mdr500 it sound amazing, through these. I hope to be able to watch them live one day JUST BUY IT ITS GREAT!
on 26 June 2015
Great thanks, a cool album, about the same standard as their nothing is lost, and Tales of the inexpressible, but of the three nothing is lost is perhaps the best. Good stuff.
on 26 January 2013
If you like world music, psychedelic trance and ambient tunes, then Shpongle is definitely for you. They call it psybient music. Utterly brilliant!