I do like The Kleptones. I like the whole idea of nailing one song to another song and coming up with something not too ghastly. It’s something I’ve toyed with myself on the odd occasion, sometimes tolerably. So it was nice to discover someone doing it so much better than my petty dabblings and one hell of a lot more prodigiously.
A brief history, then. Eric first came to my attention with Yoshimi Battles The Hip Hop Robots, where The Flaming Lips met a combination of rap, Doris Stokes, Bill Hicks and more. Good stuff, but quickly eclipsed by the amazing Night At The Hip Hopera, in which Queen met bloody all sorts and partied it up with a fuck-you copyfighting attitude. And then came 24 Hours, in which Eric clearly went completely insane and decided to make a double mash-up concept album that made Phil Collins not only listenable, but danceable. I mean, really.
Since then there have been a few podcasts and a couple of fantastic live set recordings to keep us going, but no new album. At least, not until the second the clock ticked over into 2010 and Uptime / Downtime was released. And once again I fail to be disappointed. Again it’s a double album, but it’s one of two distinct halves.
Uptime is the Kleptones you were expecting; Eric plundering the entire history of popular music and glueing it all together with a defter production touch than ever. It’s made of everything, as a glance at the Uptime /Downtime Wikipedia page will attest. It’s a banging onslaught of music you already own grafted to stuff you’ve never heard before and sounding completely new and exciting for it. New Order plus Nirvana? Hell, yes. 808 State and Bikini Kill? Fuck, yes.
After a Final Word in which Bill Drummond exhorts us to start now, because tomorrow is always too late, Uptime drops into Downtime. And Downtime is revelatory. It’s The Kleptones’ Chill Out, mining the more relaxed, reflective end of the musical spectrum with a lighter touch than the densely packed Uptime. Here you’ll find Nick Drake and Scott Walker, Rush and John Mayall, expertly blended for an hour and a bit of decidedly laid-back listening pleasure. And with sources much more obscure than its upbeat counterpart you can forget about spotting the samples and just settle into it.
In short: Uptime / Downtime! It takes you out dancing all night, gets you mashed off your face then takes you home to a comfy sofa with a beer, a filthy great spliff and the sun coming up, FOR FREE. It’d be bloody rude not to.
*Update* As Eric kindly points out, you can listen to it right here through the magic of Soundcloud!