Available on: Stones Throw EP

Routinely dismissed as an “eccentric” maverick, the oddball court jester of Castle Stones Throw, Texan native James Pants’ short, prolific career has been embodied by a carefree abandon of genre. It has been both a blessing and curse. Some characters that peddle the music game sui generis lead a charmed life – wild, stylistic collisions come off, ideas that shouldn’t work actually do – others meanwhile often sit in the Pants camp, tainted by too many ideas, eyes too big for the edit page.

And then in December 2009, Pants’ second full-length proper, Seven Seals arrived, easily his most focussed work yet; a strange, minimal-wave concept record cloaked in reverb, chilly synth matter and broken boogie bass bump. It featured moments of genuine tenderness, fully formed pop songs from another planet. Yes, there were too many songs, but the highlights far outweighed the gluttony. So, career best album clocked off, do you, Mr Pants follow it up by traversing similar sonic terrain? As if.

A seven-track, seventeen minute sketch blizzard in ADHD, New Tropical’s brevity is again testament to the ever-wandering mind of the Stones Throw man, but still it works, just. 808 kick drums are plunged into the red, a reggae skank worms its way into the buzzing analogue pulse whilst freaky samples are mangled into its curious, humid, mix and blend.  80’s bass licks – on a Dam Funk tip – are burnt into the brew, bubbling away like just popped, cheap champagne, and Pants even finds space to squeeze a Chi-Town Juke / Steve Reich martial-funk-collage into proceedings… a flurry of noise and bass and groove…. deep breath…

So once more into his Pants James asks you to jump. And as much as you love the giddy rush, it’s probably soon forgotten, leaving you in little doubt of his considerable talents but desperately hoping he’d score some Ritalin next time.

Alex Wilson

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