Never knowing when enough's enough, that's Sean O'Hagan's problem....

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Speak Of The Devil

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Speak Of The Devil

NEVER KNOWING WHEN ENOUGH’S enough, that’s Sean O’Hagan’s problem. Having taken his infatuation with the symphonic intricacies of The Beach Boys to almost clinically insane levels, on his last album he finally moved The High Llamas into new(ish) terrain. Germany, to be precise. And while ‘Cold And Bouncy’ – with its echoes of Teutonic electronica – didn’t present wholesale change, it at least highlighted O’Hagan’s new obsession.

Hence, ‘Lollo Rosso’: the recent past remixed and radically redesigned by a handful of serious Europeans and – inevitably – America’s Jim O’Rourke (a man who by the year 2000 will have remixed every sound in existence at least twice). An ambitious and noble attempt to expand his palate, then – or at least it would be if it didn’t feature an all-too-predictable selection of collaborators.

Mouse On Mars, Schneider TM and Kid Loco might be musicians that O’Hagan likes and respects, but it still means ‘Lollo Rosso’ is the sound of the same old people with the same old reference points remixing each other for no apparent purpose. There’s an insularity and safeness at work here, which defeats the whole point of the project from the outset.

Detached, vacuum-packed and minus any discernible direction beyond the doubtful thud of ‘innovation’, you wonder if the world really needs Cornelius’ jaunty ambient vision of ‘Homespin Rerun’ or the sick torture of the creaking bed spring in Schneider TM’s ‘Homerun Ubershow’.

The best bits – Jim O’Rourke’s take on ‘Mini Management’, O’Hagan’s own remix of ‘Tilting Windmills’ – keep the essentials and [I]then [/I]bury them under echoing drum patterns and fractured effects.

Moments such as these, though, are all too rare. For the most part, this compilation is the sound of an obsessive O’Hagan disappearing down yet another cul-de-sac. Still, at least there’s no Stereolab mix.