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Fragments of Freedom by Morcheeba (Review)

Fragments of Freedom - Morcheeba

I do not like to review records I do not like. Well, I love Morcheeba. Who Can You Trust? was an instant classic of the ’90s and saw Morcheeba as a promise of the new generation of Trip-hoppers. Even this record made the likes of David Byrne (who invited them to produce and collaborate in many of the songs from his best album, Feelings) show interest in this promising group.

Their second album, The Big Calm, was full of crafted beauty, combining accessibility with the same sense of cleverness that made Who Can You Trust? so great. However, many favored Who Can You Trust? over The Big Calm. Also, the latter had a more reflective and poetic tone than the former.

With this background, it’s difficult to believe that Morcheeba was the one group that would make an album that I could give one star. Fragments of Freedom is the greatest disappointment of the year 2000. And I still can’t believe that I would write these words.

Fragments of Freedom sounds really commercial. Morcheeba are not the first in making (or trying to make) concessions to the charts (particularly the American ones). The Cure, Peter Gabriel and, more recently, Fatboy Slim, Moby, Richard Ashcroft, and Jamiroquai have made concessions before, but they managed to avoid compromising their artistic dignity and credibility by those concessions. Fragments of Freedom’s kindred spirit might be Genesis’ …And Then There Were Three or, better said, Duke, since the former still had good songs. Like those Genesis’ albums, Fragments of Freedom seems to be a declaration of “Well, we’ve had enough of artistic credibility. It is time now of earning some fame and fortune.”

Don’t waste your time tryng to find trip-hop here. Believe me, there is no trip-hop here, with the exception of the title track. There is a lot of funk and R&B here. So, what is wrong with that? Well, it has more to do with Montell Jordan and Mariah Carey than with Funkadelic and James Brown. Some unneccesary rap and female vocals do nothing but highlight the new, apparently commercial direction of the group. Alternative Press and Pitchforkmedia were too kind in rating the record in a nice middle. I tried to do that; I took time to listen to the CD before buying it (after very bitter reviews I do not like to waste my money). I could not find any single reason to be kind to a group that was destined to be one of my favorites. And that’s the saddest part.

It is not that Morcheeba was wrong in being happier. Richard Ashcroft did an album with happy songs and high quality. And this is where I do not agree with the Uncut Magazine; while it severely underrated Ashcroft’s wonderful debut, the same magazine exaggeratedly overrated Morcheeba’s third album. I just hope that Morcheeba learn from its mistakes, and gets back into shape again.

Written by Pekky Marquez.

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