News Bullion - You Drive Me To Plastic

A complex marriage of skilled design and evocative execution.

Having made an initial appearance on CD format late last year, Bullion’s latest non-LP finally hits the world in glorious one-sided vinyl. A hodge podge of carefully mined musical delights are packed together on this release, fragments sitting side by side where their origins are normally separated by oceans; ‘You Drive Me To Plastic’ is intercontinental to the point where we envy the magpie ears of Nathan Jenkins now more than ever.

Despite the heavy implications that composing ‘world’ music can often incur, at 21-ish minutes in length there is nothing to get bogged down in here, but a great deal to savour. Nodding to his previous releases with open and closed doors, ‘Wrong Door In(tro)’ samples the sound of footsteps moving between the speakers with hints of his musical past. A disorientating and cheeky opener, the track sets things firmly in the eclectic.

Spirals of traditional folk string melodies permeate the samples of ‘Too Right’ with some of the more consternated beats Bullion makes. Hard on the snare and with a circulatory buzz, as well as thrumming vocal sample, this is a rolling landscape of a tune, encompassing even more with each listen, even a scratch of thunder. This segues into ‘Spirit Mighty’ with hardly an evident blink, but the operatic hint exposes a change in backdrop and relent in the pace, with more subdued saxophone added to the mix.

Bullion’s puzzle pieces show humour – his sampling often incorporating animal noises and disingenuous spoken clips. He takes a rare holistic approach, in that the voice samples, beats and effects aren’t seemingly thrown around with the purpose of crafting anything resembling a song-structure; no, Bullion prefers to wander – at times distorted and ambient – into different patches of musical symmetry or juxtaposition, like following the line of a river purely looking at the tributaries.

‘Lol Express’ is smeared with blustery saxophone lines, over an atmospheric wash of voice and echoing drums. Brief but expansive at once, the saxophone clearly serves it’s jazz-roots purpose to act as instrumental expressive ‘voice’ to the ensemble, slightly wild and in keeping with the disparity of the album, the woodwind moves us once more into new territory.

Between Holstian brass and what could be Peruvian percussion, ‘Slight Jig In The Sky’ acts as a bassy fanfare and gateway into the album’s lengthiest, and most groove-laden, track ‘Magic Was Ruler’. The latter breaks the stoic beat into a shuffle to match the Columbian styled brass and alternate oscillations of guitar riff and femme soul sample.

The eclecticism of Jenkins’ record collection is certainly impressive, but also when combined makes for a pretty timeless whole. ‘Pressure To Dance’ brings together almost baile-funk vocal yelling with very 80s robotic glitched synths and almost Blockbuster-styled melodies, eventually phasing into a distinctly more disco cut. Oddly this aural assault turns into an air raid with the sound of jet engines sweeping from one speaker to the next.

Similarly wayward from the start to end, ‘My Castle In England’ moves from Dirty Dancing-aping vocal samples and inverted theme music into a funk blast of fresh beats and militaristic snares. Whilst his tunes may not clock up a great amount of your time, they certainly demand a dense amount of your brain’s deciphering skills.

‘You Drive Me To Plastic’ is such a complex marriage of skilled design and evocative execution, that by the end of its brief twenty-something minutes, so much music has passed through your cerebellum it’s hard to sum up. Encompassing as much as Nathan Jenkins has in these eight tracks is difficult, but doing so without alienating your listeners is nigh on the work of a genius.

Tags: Bullion, Reviews, Album Reviews

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