Review Summary: Welcome to a world all its own.
Shpongle spearheaded a type of emphatic and interesting ambient music stemming from both western and eastern influences across the globe, creating a psychedelic experience like no other. There is an obvious leaf taken from drug use and altered reality right from the get-go of this album. Much like the drugs the music tends to encourage, only by immersing oneself in this release will one understand what the experience is like.
When you do, you are welcomed into a world all its own. Are You Shpongled? will have the listener dive into an entanglement of beats and grooves rolling over a sea of ambient backdrops. Most of the sounds seeping from the album are borrowed from two distinct categorizing themes. One spawns from the electronica influences of the album, and that is the spacey, sci-fi based sounds laden in a lot of the synthesizers. The second and equally as dominant style is a very earth-bound and tribal influence found in the instrument and vocal samples. Both these styles are juxtaposed so fluidly, the mood given off is celestial and other-worldly while also staying very natural and organic. Examples of this yin-yang relationship are found all over, such as Vapour Rumours’ tribal flute floating over the synthesizers that depict emptiness akin to the void of space, or the boiling liquid behind the ancient singing of Monster Hit.
This is truly where the album shines. Although rightfully classified as electronica, Shpongle utilizes a wide range of methods to create the perfect psychedelic back drop. Moments like the rapidly evolving drum rhythms in Divine Moments of Truth that kaleidoscope into one-another other warrant respect for their musicianship while the song’s beginnings show off impressive throat-singing techniques. This prevents some criticism for the lack of musicianship some may find on other synth-based releases and keeps the album from growing stale. Each song sounds like a whole new experience and direction to shake off any repetition that starts to grow.
Although its best efforts have the flow perfected on this album, any hour of music that shows no intention for structure or direction encourages exhaustion. The mind-bending tricks and turns found here will eventually become too much if not in the correct mindset. The ordering of the songs will make it so rarely a song begs to be skipped, but the entire journey is sometimes given up on all together. A corny vocal sample may also dig up every once in a while, such as listing random drug names or robotic laughter stemming from nothing. Despite all this, the unsettling and forward moving direction of the music will definitely entertain and deliver a psychedelic experience worth checking out.