Noonday Underground – Surface Noise

Noonday Underground is the sun drenched soulful electronic project from Simon Dine (formerly of Adventures in Stereo) which flies across the radar first appearing as a retro throwback, slowly revealing its entirely inventive and modern structure and intricate production detailing.  Submerged in everything 60’s-cool, from exotica to California pop and Motown swagger, Dine weaves evocative time-travel textures shot through by every technique at his disposal in a modern studio.  It’s a deliciously supple blend which has gone virtually unnoticed far too long.

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Stretching out on the wider canvas of this second LP, the album opens with orchestral pomp straight out of a climactic film score, doubling over into a breakbeat laden lounge simmer before sliding directly into first single Boy Like A Timebomb.  Slow-burn vocals by Daisey Martey (of Morcheeba) manage to steal the spotlight from the deep groove brass section and massive drum fills, evoking the passionate gravity of classic soul sirens and sultry Bristol trip hop birds alike.  While ostensibly Dine’s partner in crime throughout the band’s early career, she is joined by a menagerie of crooners on this outing; most notable is early supporter and famously soul-infatuated former front man of The Jam and The Style Council, the preeminent Paul Weller.  His turn on the emphatic I’ll Walk Right On is one of the unquestionable highlights on this platter, already stuffed to the gills with one gem after another.  While the smokey atmosphere, dubby bass and loose percussive nature begs comparisons to modern acts like DJ Shadow or Portishead, the surface feel itself is indebted to the exotic sheen of composer John Barry and his quintessentially cool film scores.  Every listen to this album transports me to a space where I’m suiting up in a peaked-lapel tuxedo and ordering a gin-vodka martini, shaken and served in a deep goblet with a thin slice of lemon peel, all the while zipping over the clouds in a chrome-accented private jet on the way to some hidden volcanic island.  Yes, it’s that evocative.  Turn it on, turn it up, and get to the runway – there’s plenty of room on this trip.

[the Japanese release (with 2 bonus cuts) can be found at amazon for a better price than used original copies, while norman records supposedly has a standard priced copy in stock, and eil will let you request the next available unit.  yeah, it’s a bit hard to track down]