Joe Goddard – Harvest Festival (Greco-Roman) 02/11/2009

October 17, 2009 by  

joe goddard

Joe Goddard is a busy boy indeed. Not content with a part in everyone’s favourite leftfield dance group Hot Chip, Goddard also dabbles in DJ-ing, remixing and is a founder member of the Greco-Roman Collective. And now he’s gone and released an album of solo material.

Was it worth the effort? It’s difficult to say. Harvest Festival is definitely an interesting album, and it will find a number of enthusiasts among those of a more serious dance bent. Described as ‘My comment on dance music here as I have experienced it over the years’ Harvest Festival is almost a continuous soundtrack to a big night out. But it’s far from engaging. Goddard has been very vocal about his musical influences, citing everything from dub-step to drum ‘n’ bass as essential to his particular flavour of schizophrenic dance, yet at times these elements rub uncomfortably on each other.

Album opener ‘Apple Bobbing’ is an easy introduction to the Goddard way, sounding as it does like a slightly slowed-down Hot Chip number minus the vocals and the little hooks that make it so appealing. Not bad, as such, but nothing that we haven’t heard done better before.

‘Go Bananas’ is one moment where the formula doesn’t quite work. A relentless and unchanging bassline throbs like a headache while a very limited melody loops over and over. Add in a distorted voice chanting ‘And party, and bullshit, and party, and bullshit’ in monotone throughout and it is difficult to understand how anyone could enjoy it without massive chemical assistance. It’s perhaps an attempt at an ironic garage anthem that wasn’t properly thought through.

Then we veer from one extreme to another. ‘Lemon & Lime (Hometime)’ is a simple gem. A crisp little beat carries the song, while gentle orchestral chords create an almost hymnal feel. The lyrics are simple but appealing. ‘Take me out. I want to see the morning’ Simple and understated, but set against the tone of the song, strangely touching. It’s much more familiar territory, but as a consequence it’s more polished and comfortable. And more enjoyable to listen to.

Then the pace kicks up again with ‘Sour Grapes’, a bouncy weave along an initially entertaining but ultimately directionless path. The lack of any kind of real structure or progression leaves us, as the listener, adrift. We vacantly bob our heads to an admittedly catchy beat until it stops. And that’s about it. ‘Pineapple Chunk’ doesn’t even have that much to say for it. An irritatingly simple beat and a melody so simple and slow it sounds like the work of a toddler.

One term that springs to mind from this album is ‘ambient’. And no edgy, jerky and dangerous ambient in the Aphex Twin vein, more like the sort of thing you would expect to hear in the chill-out room of a trance club, sprawled out among the rest of the over-indulgers.

If you picked up Harvest Festival hoping to hear Hot Chip melodies with a new spin, then you’ll be disappointed. If you picked it up hoping for a challenging and inaccessible concept album laden with ego, then perhaps you could do worse.

‘I wanted to do things that would feel a little out of place on a Hot Chip album,’ said Goddard. Congratulations Joe. Not one of these songs would have made it there.

[rating:2]

By Liam Clune


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