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Having shed their well-worn reggae outer-garments and slipped into something a little more kraut-like on their recent 7" single Runaway Train II, Still Flyin' now take us even deeper into hypnotic euphoria on the bold vinyl-only 12" EP A Party in Motion. With its locked groove, synth bass, and distinct absence of skanking guitar, the opening track 'Bull Riff' throws down the gauntlet for the band's style rebirth. Initially unrecognisable as a Still Flyin' song, sounding far more Neu! or Kraftwerk, we are eventually clued in when Sean Rawls' familiar vocal picks up the story and leads us into the latest of his trademark mirthful allegories. Across the four songs, we are ushered through fields of blossoming aural flora, flush with all kinds of colourful sounds from the synthetic and acoustic worlds as the band continue to flesh out ideas while showing a general disregard for standard pop song structures. As with the Still Flyin' of old, the whole EP is peppered with chants, interjections and counter-choruses from the Flyinettes, while lead vocals are at times swapped up with percussionist (and Rawls' former Masters of the Hemisphere bandmate) Bren Mead.
Known across the spheres for their uplifting party jams, unhinged stage show and general sense of throw-down, the behemoth San Franciscan collective (at times featuring members of Architecture in Helsinki and The Lucksmiths) have adopted a more pulsating, repetitive backdrop on these four songs to match their newfound urge to roll the melodies out one-by-one, layer upon layer, to make for an epic listen and an even more epic dance party. Under the guidance of ace producer Haima Marriott (AiH), Still Flyin' have bravely leapt from their comfort zone, while keeping their carefree "hammjamm" credo intact.
1) Bull Riff 2) Strength 3) Neu Idea 4) Higher Than Five
Bull Riff by Still Flyin' by Lost And Lonesome
No stranger to shape-shifting, San Francisco’s Sean Rawls previously followed up his role in the long-running indie pop band Masters of the Hemisphere with the dub/reggae party monster Still Flyin’. After two lazily sprawling EPs and a more focused debut album, Rawls has remade the revolving-lineup ensemble on this latest EP. The sound is now detached, minimal pop that uproots the band’s touchstone influences from Caribbean beaches and plunks them down in urban, wintry Germany.
That’s right: Krautrock is the flavour of the month on A Party In Motion, but it’s not jarring in the least. There are still crowded vocal harmonies and a rubbery rhythm section, and Rawls’ knack for dreaming up slacker mantras hasn’t let him down yet. This vinyl EP – which includes a digital download – kicks off with ‘Bull Riff’, a six-minute introduction full of breathy vocals, sublime repetition, and a vaguely cosmic sheen. ‘Strength’ is more like gauzy pop, while the flipside’s brief ‘Neu Idea’ is more about crystalline guitar and muffled electronic beats than paying proper homage to Neu!.
The culmination of this leftfield experiment is ‘Higher Than Five’, eight minutes of submerged, slow-mo disco. It keeps the central groove of past Still Flyin’ records, but protracts, mellows, and strips it nearly bare. Even the horns sound on the verge of nodding off to sleep. The song feels endless in all the right ways, which is to say we’re in no rush for it to finish. When Rawls sings the refrain “No idea where we are goin’” earlier on the EP, it works as both an admission and a manifesto: he’s as uncertain of the band’s next direction as we are, and not too fussed about it either.