The South Trio – Elegy for a Raver
(Shift Records shift 004. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Little has changed in the South Trio’s overall approach since they made their debut album, the appropriately named Sugar Rush, a couple of years back. ‘High-energy, punchily percussive, immediately accessible …
the South Trio simply set up a thunderous riff or a rolling motif and kick it around for a while’ was my description of that CD, and this one could be summed up in similar fashion, although, as its title suggests, its tone is a lot more downbeat, a ‘mooch around the murky undergrowth of an ecstasy comedown’ rather than the ‘speed high’ of the previous album, to quote the trio’s own publicity.
Keyboard player William South spent much of the second half of the noughties playing big dance music events, and so witnessed first hand the decline in interest in the rave scene since its nineties heyday, a process he memorably describes as ‘the edgier end of the dance music scene going out of fashion’, culminating in ‘a musical dustbowl’.
Consequently, this album has an elegiac feel to it, its many psychedelic effects and trance-inducing beats tempered by a brooding, melancholy, occasionally even slightly weary atmosphere. To quote the impressively eloquent South again, his music recalls the feel of ‘listening to a rave from the dressing room portakabin at 4 a.m., waiting for the minibus out, all EQ definition lost in a heady wash of psychedelic nonsense’. If this makes the album sound uniformly depressing, however, it’s misleading; alongside South’s crashingly emphatic keyboard riffs, his rhythm section (bassist Ashley Molloy South – his son – and drummer Eddie Hick) manage to infuse the music with infectious power and vibrancy, and so the end result is a much more complex and nuanced set than the one on Sugar Rush, strikingly described by the band itself as ‘a sonic ode to the bacchanal charms of a life led to the full and the dues that you pay’.
Elegy for a Raver on Amazon
The album is also on Soundcloud