OAKENFOLD Bunkka (Perfecto)
Acclaimed DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold has finally got around to making his debut album, and although it's not classic it's better than the savage reviews its received in some quarters of the music press. Certainly it's a more enjoyable album than Timo Maas' recent, similarly themed but rather tubby and rubbery "Loud", although that might have a great deal to do with the interesting and unlikely army of guest vocalists Oakenfold's clout has allowed him to assemble - you'd be unlikely to find Perry Farrell and Ice Cube sharing an album under any other circumstances.
A great deal of "Bunkka" seems cut to a similar pattern, with featherlight operatic female vocals and fluttering synths that suggest songs Opus III might have rejected as possible singles a dozen years back. But there are moments of goodness here too: "Zoo York" sounds tailor-made for a David Fincher or Michael Mann film wound around corporate paranoia, all threatening strings sawing across the track like stormclouds above a city skyline. "Nixon's Spirit" features none other than gonzo grandaddy Hunter S. Thompson, whose coruscating grumble immediately makes it the highlight of the album, although it still falls woefully short of the benchmark in the synthesis of dance music and literature, Material With William S. Burroughs' "Words Of Advice". The jangling intro to "Everybody's Talkin'" wafts pleasantly through "Starry Eyed Surprise" like a summer breeze, whilst on "Motion" Grant Lee Philips sounds unnervingly like Bono and Jim Kerr in 80s rock messiah mode. Finally, "The Harder They Come" is an offbeat waltz, possibly the least formulaic track on the album, as inspired as its pairing of Tricky with Nelly Furtardo.
But for all that, "Bunkka" isn't the earth-shattering pronouncement that might be expected from a figure of Oakenfold's standing, and perhaps therein lies the key to some people's disappointment with this album. There's nothing particularly memorable here, with the interest and excitement level often closely linked to the listener's feelings for a particular track's star turn. It's an interesting album, but inessential.