Phelps & Munro: Slowpoke

By Russell Baillie

Reviewed by RUSSELL BAILLIE

(Herald rating: * * * * )

There's not a discernible vocal among this hour-long adventure in domestic electronica-with-guitar by Auckland boffin Gerald Phillips, who operates under that duo pseudonym for reasons best known to himself.

But it's still got a sense of humour - whether it's the audible cough which interrupts opening track To the Spazmobile (which, after its guitar powerchord intro, wanders neatly into a spindly, time-signature-bending blip-fest), or the whimsical tune to the likes of Bounceback.

That playfulness makes Slowpoke a strangely engaging album, at its best when Phillips is playing to his melodic strengths which are especially elegant on the guitar-driven Ditto, the wistful title track or Horse Winning Without Rider.

Elsewhere there are hints of Eno-influence around the edges of Pre Ambleand the likes of Slap Me Stu briefly threatens to become the Seinfeld theme.

The closing Ex-Exotic Dancer suggests it could be the soundtrack to a computer-animated Pixar short as it slowly grinds to a halt.

With the 14 tracks running seamlessly throughout, it's clear there's a big-picture intent beyond the electro-niftiness and as it filter-sweeps, modulates, and jangles its six-strings, Slowpoke exudes a quiet sense of fun and airy atmosphere.

That makes it a background music sort of album which keeps pushing its beguiling tunes into the foreground.

(Round Trip Mars)

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