Shpongle
Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 4th, 2009 | 207 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A more than worthy follow-up to their meisterwerk.

So the question is an obvious one: just how do you follow up the album of the decade?

When 2005's still-incredible Nothing Lasts....But Nothing is Lost dropped, the rumour was that, although Raja Ram and Simon Posford would continue to collaborate on other projects, Shpongle were going to call it a day. Rather than being a disappointment, it just made perfect sense - they had steadily improved over the course of their three albums, culminating in a release that they would obviously never improve upon. We weren't going to get any more Shpongle material, but they bowed out on the highest of all highs, and it's been tough not to look at some of the more disappointing albums released since then (Era Vulgaris, Out of Control, Graduation), and wonder why more bands don't do that.

So when Ineffable Mysteries from Shpongleland was announced, the excitement came tinged with fear. Where on Earth could they go from here? They could easily have tumbled from their lofty perch, and this album could easily have been a disaster.

So let's credit Posford and Ram for being smart enough to not even attempt a follow-up to Nothing Lasts. As a matter of fact, Ineffable Mysteries plays out as if their last album never even happened. This could even have been released immediately after Are You Shpongled? - after the fanciful, sprawling, genre-spanning nature of the previous album, this is a conscious and deliberate return to the psytrance roots that spawned the band. The only concession to fans that might have been turned onto the band by their last album is the female vocal on "No Turn-Unstoned", which sounds curiously like Sophie Ellis-Bextor. Outside of that, three-minutes tracks are replaced with ten-minute ones, the mainstream-embracing sample of Ned Flanders is replaced with an obscure one of a recent contestant from the UK version of Big Brother, and an organic sound is replaced with possibly their most electronic material yet. Songs like "The Stamen of the Shamen" and "Inhalation" could quite happily have been played using only acoustic instruments, and perhaps were; no such thing is true here.

It's a very clever move, not just because it treats Nothing Lasts as a one-off fluke, but because it also gets the band's original fanbase back on side, after the distant rumblings from some quarters complaining about their success. It also acts as a timely reminder that, when Shpongle stick to psytrance, they're simply the best. There've been some seriously great albums released in the genre since 2003's Tales of the Inexpressible (a few of them involving Posford and Ram themselves), but this is still the best album of pure psytrance released since then - a record with so many brilliant touches it's difficult to take them all in. "Nothing Is Something Worth Doing" in particular stands out as the album's high watermark, a song that stands tall alongside "Dorset Perception" as one of their very greatest.

Another unmitigated triumph, then. They'd be the best electronic act of all time if it wasn't for those Germans and their pesky Autobahns.



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user ratings (280)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

May add to this review quite heavily to make it a bit more accessible to people who aren't huge fans. I haven't decided yet.

AtavanHalen
November 4th 2009


17927 Comments


Where's the tracklisting m8

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is absolutely unreal.

I can't even begin to imagine how much work they put into this, every moment here is scripted to perfection and the variety of sounds they manage to pull together with still remaining distinctly Shpongle is just... stupid.

The beginning of Shpongolese Spoken Here is some of the craziest s'hit I have ever heard. Bloody genius.

Roach
November 4th 2009


2148 Comments


One of these guys is an old man.





A fucking old man.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

[IMG]http://i37.tinypic.com/33n82kj.jpg[/IMG]

Oooh yeaaaaah

Roach
November 4th 2009


2148 Comments


[img]http://farm1.static.flickr.com/126/404003506_99277c9dce.jpg?v=0[/img]

lol





Anyway good review etc

AggravatedYeti
November 4th 2009


7685 Comments


I really want this. And ^ that dude is high as balls.

klap
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2009


10453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah nick you might want to put in more about the actual music, i really had only a slight idea of what shpongle actually were (electronica) until the last paragraph, and i have no idea what electronica acts they're similar to. just a thought

Digging: Tennis - Ritual In Repeat

joshuatree
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3742 Comments


never listened to this band but will now.

TheStarclassicTreatment
November 4th 2009


2910 Comments


They're called Shpongle, of course they're high

Iai
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah nick you might want to put in more about the actual music, i really had only a slight idea of what shpongle actually were (electronica) until the last paragraph, and i have no idea what electronica acts they're similar to. just a thought

Yeah, figured as much. I'll probably add a paragraph tomorrow - got a wake to go to tonight.

Transient
November 4th 2009


1461 Comments


can't wait to hear this

Athom
Staff Reviewer
November 4th 2009


17215 Comments


well if nick and alex both praise it i guess i gotta get it.
edit: listening. this shit rules

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

foreverendeared
November 4th 2009


14678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I haven't listened to any of their other stuff, but this album is really good

KILL
November 4th 2009


71839 Comments


gettin this

Digging: A Guy Called Gerald - Black Secret Technology

Meatplow
November 4th 2009


5524 Comments


i've only heard bits and pieces of their work

I might take my chance on this

PanasonicYouth
November 4th 2009


7411 Comments


this sounds odd
will check out when i get home

WeepingBanana
November 4th 2009


10159 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

shpongle are so amazing. this might be my album of the year.

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 4th 2009


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't gotten a chance to listen to the whole thing yet, but the last song is awesome.

hipnotoad
November 4th 2009


207 Comments


Welp, I'm sold.



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