||In the great and ongoing culture war between high and low, raw and refined, the real versus popular, certain territories have been ceded:
styles considered mainstream get to be pretty, lovely and optimistic. Styles originating underground are presumed to be gritty, burly
So it’s a subversion of a kind, and definitely an intellectual challenge, to bathe a foreboding bass line in a lilt. To make gloomy shine.
Adrian Younge’s Voices of Gemma embodies the potential of the hybrid. By just saying no to the borders a label like underground might
impose on a creativity like his, he’s able to fashion a sound that elbows its way past your defenses, whatever they are. You don’t want
to hear anything grim today? Had enough of that on the news, thanks? Younge has a couple of angels on hand to waft a hard truth over
so that when it hits it feels like a kiss. Sick of the saccharine piped over aisle 4 at Walgreens? Younge’s palming you a melody fit for
Voices of Gemma comes from Younge’s refusal to accept the premise. His stance is there in every artist’s job description — the
determination to suction up sounds and flavors and phrases from all over the past and present and imagined and documented, and then
splice and dissolve what he finds into more possibilities and new ways of seeing, something fresh.
On this project his songs are precise, the set ups delivered with a satiny finish and, in the low end, just a hint of louche. Care has been
given to every detail, and the old way of doing a thing (bring in an orchestra, record to tape) is the way it’s done, it’s like listening to a
Voices of Gemma is luxurious, a style that we forgot could be present day, as accustomed as we are to sampled and thrice-removed
versions of it. This is high-class signified, a world-class realization.