We sat on this album for an entire season ~ it remained on the outskirts of our consciousness, struggling to find its way to the top like a buried daydream. But here it is, summer, and the recent heatwaves have us picturing the couple on the cover, while the set’s themes have grown remarkably prescient. We’re all yearning for connection right now, and digging through the archives of our lives, seeking familiar faces and sounds. As a throwback disc, rightfully compared to The Orb, Connected fits the bill.
“Choir On Mars” was the first taste of the album, which dropped back in May. In July, California banned singing in churches. The world has become so surreal we don’t know what to make of it. But to hear these sounds is a comfort. Strangely, it’s winter now in Perth, but we’re not going to dig that deeply; the pair has likely added another quilt. We can remember the carefree days of (searches Discogs) ~ 1991! Wow, some of us have gotten old. There’s even some scratching and light dub on “This Is from Earth,” a sign that maybe, just maybe, we don’t have to discard the old sounds so completely.
Will the couple on the cover turn back toward each other? Are they back to back because they’ve had an argument, or are their positions chance? And why does their bed look like a giant crib? The baby in “Braxton” implies that the association is intentional, although one might interpret the entire set as an expression of wanting to return to a more innocent time. Such nostalgia has recently accelerated.
The popcorn synth of “We Funky” is another comfort ~ we haven’t heard this style in ages! A gentle breakdown leads to crowd noise and a soft, rather than climactic recovery. Then we reach the album’s odd point: the voiceover of “Happy Garden of Life,” which reminds us of Buddha Bar, an imprint that is incidentally still releasing albums as well. This makes me think of the old chill-out bus at my favorite club in the 90s; it seemed to be in another room, and we didn’t know we were outside until we looked up and saw the stars. But “Sheep Radio” is the highlight, the album’s most modern piece, ironically including more birds than sheep as our fleeced friends wait until the end to take over. The Caribbean rhythms exude peace: a path to staying connected. The title track ups the tempo before the last piece brings it down, ushering the couple to a softer, more stable sleep. Perhaps tomorrow won’t be so bad after all; we only needed a new perspective, as we did on this album. (Richard Allen)