ridge’s early records envisioned some kind of nouveau Fantasia where post-rock shamans in face paint tore through all sorts of instruments: a saxophone plastered with feathers, possessed recorders, Kraut power tools, tape-loop futzes, key-rattling, and rusty door hinges. For five or so minutes everything would get swept into a face melting frenzy and then thin out into a warped puddle. Sometimes it brewed quietly. This went on for a few great albums and then guitarist Kieran Hebden and bassist Adem Ilhan went their separate ways.
Hebden went on to create gorgeous pocket-sized storms under the name Four Tet; each song its own machine-like compaction of digestible pop peppered with instrumental hand grenades. Adem was reborn as a cantor-of-the-digital-forest, pulling and plucking meticulously from a big stable of sounds for an excellent folk record. Were they to reunite, each career suggested that whatever Fridge had left in them could not be anything less than a pyramid or some kind of colossus—which is why The Sun is so baffling.
Opener “The Sun” topples in headfirst with Sam Jeffers’ ass-killing breakbeat and settles in quickly with some steel-gouging whorls, raising expectations for their first album in over six years. But after all the fury and hellraising—maybe after the first thirty seconds of the rest of the ten songs—the Fridge guys just sort of hang out and let things dance by themselves. The next highlight “Comets,” a sun-drenched track with a parading synth under a slippery platter of chimes, won’t come along for twenty minutes. Somewhere in between there’s a lot of hypnotic boredom. The vernacular hasn’t much changed from their Fridge days: front and center are the minimal bobbles and extended riffs, drum machines and syrupy layers of electronics. But the syntax has: rather than taut jabs and precise movements, everything has slipped into a noodly abyss of glazed eyes and repetitive slumps.
It would be difficult to convince yourself that The Sun is anything but meandering and listless. From the constituent beauties of Hebden and Ilhan’s solo efforts to their classic work as Fridge, you would expect the sounds of kitchens exploding and barns toppling into a sheened-up mess of melody. What you get is some tired mechanical pantheism and an album full of music for expensive stoners.
Reviewed by: Daniel Denorch
Reviewed on: 2007-06-25