Somnambule - Writing About Music

A Guy Called Gerald ~ To All Things What They Need

Gerald Simpson’s involvement in the nascent UK acid/techno scenes via 808 State and Voodoo Ray, the raw prescience of 28 Gun Bad Boy and the mature statements of Black Secret Technology and Essence mean that, by this point in time, he’s accumulated a deal of history. It’s a weight that’s not to be dismissed easily. As with any innovator, a measure of respect is due. At the same time, that very innovation prompts a degree of potentially burdensome expectation that’s only exacerbated in this case by Simpson’s infrequent work rate. There’s also a subtle odour blended with the held breath of overt anticipation. That odour is the scent of blood: can the artist really continue to innovate or at least maintain quality levels or will s/he disappoint this time? The arc of Simpson’s work has in fact explored the potential of the breakbeat territories he mapped out in the early days. Wisely he rejects the anxiety-inducing, often paralysing lure of stylistic reinvention and instead go deeper, rather than further. To All Things What They Need doesn’t rush to impress, in fact its opener, American Cars, is a leisurely, ambient odyssey populated with birdsong, billowing pulses and the calls of nightcreatures. It’s oddly reminiscent of The Orb or FSOL. Unlike its predecessor, 2002’s Essence, there’s surprisingly little drum’n’bass audible with Gerald establishing a variegated sequence of mostly Detroit-influenced pieces. Simpson’s concerns are wide, watchful and bear a degree of hard-earned generosity. His guests, Ursula Rucker and Finley Quaye deliver sterling work and the presence of jewel-set samples and influences ranging from convincing eastern flavours to a Margaret Thatcher sample cringingly declaring that ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’ allow the listener to reflect upon potential spaces largely absent from so much of his peers’ work. Listen impatiently to this album’s constituent parts and they’re likely to disappoint. Survey its entirety and To All Things What They Need accrues a notable significance.
Colin Buttimer
June 2005
Published by e/i magazine