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Soft Power Adam Narkiewicz , April 15th, 2008 00:00

Gonzales - Soft Power

Chilly Gonzales, like Jay-Z, is supposed to be retired. He abandoned us back in 03, leaving behind an incredible body of work: the jew-funk of his Pirates On The Moon period, the lush, post club darkout of Uber Alles, The Entertainist's Berlin-born hardcore pranksta rap, Presidential Suite's vaudville bounce, the self-covering, career reimaginging Z. With his super-villain alter-ego retired, the Canadian-born musician was free to do as he pleased. He moved to France, released a critically acclaimed solo piano record called, um, Solo Piano, and produced records for Jamie Liddel, Buck 65, and most successfully, his former back-up singer Feist.

But the world had not seen the last of The Entertainist. There was one record he hadn't made yet. The record hinted at on his acclaimed Breezeblock session, where he joyously duetted with Whitney Houston's 'The Greatest Love Of All'. The record promised by his incredible cover of Daft Punk's 'Too Long':

Soft Power.

This is Gonzales' tribute to great and beautiful soft rock records of the seventies and eighties. You know. That shit you're supposed to call a "guilty pleasure" because you're a fuckwit whose musical taste is dictated by joyless hacks, soulless dried husks of former white people who can't enjoy Bon Jovi records without doing it ironically. Gonzales' music shits down the throats of these Nazis. It always did. It is one of his superpowers.

Gonzales is too clever for a lot of people's tastes (English people detest intelligence, and can't stomach wit in music unless it is clearly labelled "musical comedy"). But on Soft Power, the One Eyed Jew dispenses with the Gonzoid barbs and goes straight to, and from, the heart. So we get songs like 'Slow Down' - sublime, chest-beating power-balladry, shamelessly dripping with virgin pianos and sax solos, bells and handclaps surging towards two (2) key changes. 'Map Of The World', 10CC doing ELO covers, lush mulittracked vocals floating along on a sea of record crackles. 'Apology' - a dark, simmering cauldron of bitterness, shot through with a stalactite of ketamine bass and made fragile and beautiful by keys that sound like shards of glass, topped with Gonzales' most affecting vocal performance EVER. Dot com. It is a song that kicks you in the balls with a pointed shoe. It physically affects the listener foolish enough to let it fully penetrate his consciousness. It should come with a warning sticker.

We get the Sesame Street stomp of lead single 'Working Together'. We get the pure disco swirl of 'Let's Ride'. But best of all, we get 'Singing Something'. Gonzo a capella, "harmonising with the walls" because he likes the echo in the room, before a piano straight out of a silent movie turns our goosebumps into chills, and a lump forms magically in the listener's throat. We're right in there, bang in the middle of the music with its composer. Then suddenly, cruelly, this great, brave, magical album stops, and we are abandoned by Gonzales once more.!