First Impressions: Janelle Monáe – The Chase Suite (Special Edition)

After deciding to take sandwiches for a day or two instead of buying them in order to cover the £3 cost of this download, I wondered why I don’t just put myself on a couple of PR agency books so that I can get review copies for free. Then I reminded myself: I have to spend a couple of hours (at least) with a record to hear it properly, and if it’s rubbish, that’s two hours wasted. If I get sent 10 crappy albums a week, that’s my entire free time wasted on bilge. Much better just to actively seek out the great music and appreciate it all the more. Yes, all the proper critics fell in love with The ArchAndroid, but The Chase Suite is the one that wowed me.

The Chase Suite is a seven-track EP that owes as much to Fritz Lang and Philip K Dick as it does to Funkadelic and James Brown. It’s orchestral rhythm-and-blues in the classic Motown sense, but at the same time contemporary, pulling threads from a diverse range of influences.

Violet Stars Happy Hunting! features The Skunks, whoever they may be. It sounds a lot like Hey Ya by Outkast, which given Monáe’s Big Boi connection is not surprising (she even sang on Idlewild).

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Stravinsky Song of the Day: John Williams – Main Title (Theme from Jaws)

This is an absolutely phenomenal piece of music. It’s obviously iconic – you only ever have to mention the word “shark” and it springs to mind – but it’s also f***ing brilliant as a work in its own Rite.

The “sample” (more like copy) – from the very beginning of The Augers of Spring (Dances of the Young Girls) – appears at around the 0’40” mark, but the whole thing smacks of Stravinsky. It has the same trick of being grating and lovely at the same time. Hearing this, it’s almost a shame that the tune’s been so overshadowed by the unforgettable film it belongs to.