BadBadNotGood – Late Night Tales

BadBadNotGood make their contribution to the artist-curated compilation series, with a substantial soul sampler that’s dynamic, international, and well-curated

Album Review by Aidan Ryan | 24 Jul 2017
Album title: Late Night Tales (BadBadNotGood)
Artist: BadBadNotGood
Label: Late Night Tales
Release date: 28 Jul

Keeping with the careful thought and high production values that have marked the Late Night Tales series since 2001, this isn’t a soundtrack; BadBadNotGood are disk-jockeying your late night experience, overlaying tracks to bleed into and out of each other perfectly. It’s an album of movements, not songs.

From the opening space meditations of Boards of Canada’s Olson to the bump-hiss-zip groove of Kiki Gyan’s Disco Dancer, BadBadNotGood keep you on your toes, but thanks to some skilled mixing every transition feels at once revelatory and inevitable.

Aside from the geographic and stylistic scope here, the vocal performances are the biggest reason to check out the album. Almost all – from the likes of Gene Williams, Esther Phillips, The Beach Boys, Donnie & Joe Emerson, Grady Tate, and Steve Kuhn – have some distinctive and ineffable pull. You may spend a lifetime searching record store new acquisitions bins; once you find voices like these, you don’t let them get too far away. BadBadNotGood have packed more than a dozen little viruses into this disk, and once you hear it, you’ll be spreading the ill, too.

Beyond the voices, the music is rich, textured, melodic, and always groovy. One of the most enchanting moments comes when an assertive bass emerges out of Francis Bebey’s Sanza Nocturne, only to recede before the start of Thundercat’s For Love I Come, although The Beach Boys’ Don’t Talk (which will be for many the only familiar song on the collection) will overwhelm, just as it does in context on Pet Sounds.

BadBadNotGood take the “tales” part of their task seriously, more so than some of their fellow LateNightTales curators. The songs they pick are delightfully narrative-driven; stories of love, garbagemen on strike, homes lost and homes escaped. Phillips' Home Is Where The Hatred Is is a standout, while the closing spoken word piece – You, Me, and Jim Beam, from Lydia Lunch – is close, tactile, penetrating. It ends with an invitation, oddly appropriate at the end of this late night, which we suspect will bleed, like the tracks on the compilation, into the next one.

Listen to: Vida Antiga (by Erasmo Carlos), Home Is Where The Hatred Is (by Esther Phillips), Kaes On Aeg (by Velly Joonas)