Global Goon – Cradle of History

Global Goon – Cradle of History (1998 – Rephlex)

Like many people (I imagine), I first encountered Global Goon on the excellent, Braindance Coincidence. A compilation celebrating 10 years of Rephlex Records and their boundless, eclectic, debonair genre: braindance. 

For someone looking for an introduction to the aesthetic, the Goon track on that CD, Long Whiney, could be the perfect encapsulation of Braindance, being neither dancey nor overtly brainy. However, that track is something of an oddity on the album where it originally appears: Cradle of History. Long Whiney is moody, slightly ominous with tight biting percussion – it has the sauntering tempo of an ethically dubious character’s theme tune. 

Much of the rest of the album, in stark contradiction to the grandiose title, is playful, silly, and at times so homespun as to be bordering on the throwaway. To be fair, I can’t imagine Global Goon, or Jonny Hawk to his service providers, (one of whom seems to make an appearance in a particularly maddening repeated sample) has any pretensions of grandeur. The album sounds like it was made by someone tinkering around with a load of cheap, vintage or DIY gear in the bedroom and is not afraid of showing a bit of string and sellotape. In fact the string and sellotape is pretty much the basis for most of the tracks. 

If you want a ‘sounds like X on X’ similie, then I would say it sounds like a junkyard Four Tet. So we have twenty tracks, most of them essentially musical sketches: organs, casio keyboard tones, many varieties of percussion, playful childish (not childlike, actually childish) melodies. There are many humorous moments, such as various entrances of what I assume is Global Goon’s own voice, literally sounding like someone warbling in the bath, and the aforementioned sample of a call centre worker, asking “what was that name?” 

Not to say there aren’t some highlights, Long Whiney, and the starkly out of place Afterlife – with a lush vocal sample and blissed out breakbeat – it sounds very chillout and much more cleanly produced than the other tracks, and while it’s certainly not mould-breaking I can’t help but love it. By the time I’m deep into the second half of the album, the tracks do all blend together and I find it hard to differentiate any particular standouts. While it remains agreeable from start to finish – always easy on the ears, loping along at a chilled pace, with some highly pleasant melodic snatches (label Daddy, Aphex’s influence clearly audible) it’s fair to say the album runs on a tad too long.

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