Here is a 'lost' album of Mike Paradinas's ahead-of-its-time project tapping into the same highly melodic, orchestrated electronic pieces that made his 'Royal Astronomy' album so remarkable. Seen as a sort of companion to that album, 'Challenge Me Foolish' is similarly uplifting creating a mood of gentle optimism with music that is both baroque and whimsical.
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Michael ‘Robert’ Paradinas (thank you discogs; so formal, so polite) releases some of his µ-Ziq material previously untouched by mortal hand, collects it and titles it ‘Challenge Me Foolish’ -- on this here CD / double LP for his own Planet Mu, of course.
It’s a corker of a collection and contains exactly the sort of range and quality of music you’ve come to expect, particularly if you know and love (as I do) his ‘Royal Astronomy’ LP from way back, just pre-millennium. This set is a companion piece of sorts to that record, giving you a flavour of what to expect. Oh, and no doubt all you Mike P fans have copped that incredible mix he did for Fact a week or two ago. An extraordinary mix of new and old, breakbeat and mellowcore; vocal and instrumental; childlike and wide-eyed; and chock full of soaring, sky-scraping melodies. Which pretty much serves as a primer for the contents of this amazing record.
There’s the Acid Jazz-meets-IDM of the title track, with Kazumi’s slow-mo scatting vocal (then popping up 4 further times on the album); on ‘Bassbins’ it’s trademark µ-Ziq: hyperactive, toddler-friendly d’n’b with those crazy, lithe, multi-micro-melodies amongst complex skittering beats which fans of Paradinas (and indeed Aphex) love so dearly. Fairy-tale chimes and strings (why hasn’t Paradinas soundtracked a Ghibli movie yet?) on ‘Robin Hood Gate’. Incredible, candied, merry melodies on ‘Perhaps’; then ‘Durian’ and its stunningly pretty Detroit Techno melodies refracted through a Toytown prism (reminds me of Ian O’Brien circa ‘Gigantic Days’, here).
Just allow me one more, final example of the many highlights and delights: the delicacy of ‘Lexicon’ -- Kazumi featuring again here, sounding just a smidge like Alison Goldfrapp, fluttering and floating like a butterfly atop Paradinas’s quixotic, paradoxically jumping yet featherlight beats. All in all, it’s quite the confection and listening to the record may make you feel as giddy as a child on sherbet. Just a gentle caveat for you. OK I’m a fan obviously, but I'm gonna say it: Paradinas is a genius and this record is utterly, superbly brilliant. Fully warrants a 9, I’d say.
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