Toronto Star : Review of Howie B’s ’Snatch’ - U2 France
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Toronto Star : Review of Howie B’s ’Snatch’

dimanche 14 mars 1999

Source : Toronto Star

From The Toronto Star :

Revenge against the anti-electronic naysayers

Pop Reviews

HOWIE B

Snatch(Pussyfoot / Palm Pictures)

When you can pay the bills working with high-profile buds likeU2, Robbie Robertson, Bjork and Tricky, you’re pretty much freeto do whatever strikes your fancy on your own time.

There’s certainly an uncompromisingly free-wheeling streak toin-demand producer and remixer Howie B’s third solo album, Snatch(out Tuesday) - a tough-to-pigeonhole exercise in rivetingchill-out textures that, in its best moments, shares a spirit farcloser to the willfully obscure stuff found on avant-electroniclabels like Chain Reaction than, say, U2’s Pop.

And I do mean textures. Our man Mr. Bernstein is a gifted sonicalchemist, crafting three-dimensional, instrumental headspacesthat give off tangible sensations more frequently than they offerconventional melodies or musical forms (it’s a skill hedemonstrated scant weeks ago on Sly and Robbie’s Drum And BassStrip To The Bone album).

Almost inaudible ripples of sub-bass introduce the first track,’’Gallway,’’ for instance, making its presence felt long beforeHowie sketches in the barest, fragmented hints of a tune thatflashes like pulses of lightning in the distant reaches of themix.

Likewise, ’’Cook For You’’ - which grafts a creeping,computerized dub bassline and some spooky, drifting atmosphericsonto a muted, right-speaker salsa arrangement - practicallylurches out of the speakers at you, less music than living thing.The first half of Snatch operates at an impressionistic level,with tracks fading in and out like half-remembered, pre-sleepdispatches from the subconscious.

’Round about the loping, lovable groove of ’’Anniversary,’’though, Howie pulls together the jazzy beats and basslines thatconstantly threatened to trip over themselves on earlier cutslike ’’Sniffer Dog’’ and turns Snatch into something slightlymore conventional and, occasionally, danceable.It’s enough to get your head bobbing, although some of the trackslack the adventurous, convention-be-damned verve of theirpredecessors.

’’To Kiss You’’ even sounds like a surprisingly straightforwardjazz-funk jam - until you notice the meticulous effort that musthave gone into placing every element of the mix just so.That’s Snatch’s back-up appeal, though. It all makes for a fineafter-clubbing listen, even if - as with most producers’ albums -the real pleasures aren’t always to be had in the soundsthemselves, but in their physical arrangement.- Ben Rayner

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