Sometimes the album with the sleepy title turns out to be the ultimate sleeper – the one that comes ripping through the stereo field with all that the element of surprise has to offer.
Such is the case with the collaboration work Soul Visions from the relatively underground artists The Human Experience and Rising Appalachia. A shockingly fresh, sultry, genre-blending hair-raiser, Soul Visions draws together elements of soulful, breathy, American southern vocals, bluesy banjo licks, and striking down-tempo jazz-tronica beats. While many attempts at progressive, boundary-bashing conceptual albums fall short of the mark, Soul Visions is not just surprisingly successful, but also a piece of music that simply clicks. The twangy banjo licks work curiously well above glitched, shifty drum kicks and reverby claps, Latin pandeiros, caxixis, and ambient synths. They pull together to produce a remarkably tight sound.
An interesting trait of Soul Visions is how the album is split between three distinct eras in music and three distinct epicenters of musical development. The album has roots in turn of the century Appalachians, the American South of the 1920s, and then the glitchy sound of London’s modern underground electronic scene. This album is the culmination of truly American musical history blended with the dark, moody lounge sound characteristic of Bonobo, Beats Antique, Pantyraid, and the oldschool British dub pioneers UKF. The result is that a listen to Soul Visions can transport audiences to multiple places all at once, yielding a kind of kaleidoscoping effect in the musical imagery.
One slight fault with Soul Visions is that it sounds like a purely studio album. It in no way lacks concept, but does seem wanting in the live feel of the music. Because of its softness and synthetic texturing, live performance seems somewhat diminished on the album. However, the intricate blending on genres is in itself highly satisfying.
Bottom line: a novel, intriguing, thoroughly realized sound, perhaps limited to the studio but nonetheless surprisingly cool.