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AAA Music | 12 April 2021

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Noonday Underground – The K-O Chorale

| On 13, Jul 2010

I resent this album. It makes me feel redundant as a music journalist. And I’m not even that much of a music journalist, so I need all the help I can get here! The reasoning behind this is that I truthfully do not know what to make of this album. It has all the ingredients of something completely unique from the norm and something refreshingly alternative, but in reality its “different” in the same way that kid at school who enjoyed pulling wings of flies and trying to eat their homework was “different”.

Noonday Underground is the pseudonym of producer, DJ and Paul Weller collaborator Simon Dine, whose signature style consists of sampling choral vocals and orchestras and… well…stapling it all together basically. He intends to create a series of “Lovely moments rather than straight pop songs” in his words and he’s half achieved his goal. There are no pop songs on this record, no chorus’, no verses, no real structure to any of his experiments, but the experiments themselves are also about as “lovely” as an autopsy. Sound tracked by Trent Reznor. In Guantanamo Bay.

I am not kidding; this album is genuinely one of the creepiest things I’ve heard in a long time. It’s filled with the enforced jollity of a child’s birthday party the day after a funeral, there’s no structure to the “Songs”, the listener doesn’t know who’s saying “I love you” to them and there’s no link between any of the songs, or indeed the songs themselves, random samples will collide with each other in a clumsy fashion that just sounds like Dine has no idea what he’s doing. And that’s ridiculous, the guy just produced Paul Weller’s masterpiece “Wake up the Nation”, surely he’s capable of more than this?

There are moments of greatness, namely soul rock stomper Yours Forever, which dispenses with the smothering choirs for most part and replaces them with rollicking surf guitars and brass that could actually be called catchy. It’s by a country mile the best moment of the album and the only parallel I can find between the 60’s styled godhead that gave the world Wake up the Nation and the terminally baffled cross between Phil Spector and Aphex Twin that this album shows.

Alas, Yours Forever is the second song of the album, and so it heightens the expectations immeasurably before the eerie pointlessness of the album kicks in. It’s an interesting idea, done by an undeniably talented guy with scope and vision but in all K-O Chorale is not so much a wasted opportunity as a waste of time for all involved. “An album of mood music really for those in the mood for love”? Perhaps for those who are in the mood for love and are also misanthropic and suicidal is a better description of this album.

Author: Will Howard