[CD Review] South Central, 'The Owl of Minerva' (Egregore Music)

Not nearly as well-known stateside as they are in their native England, the nascent electronic DJ/production duo South Central technically aren’t known at all: Their actual identities are never revealed, and when they play live, they and their backing band don black cowls. It’s an eerie effect (if fairly unnecessary), and it injects a bit of showmanship into a strain of music that live can easily feel canned. And honestly, who cares who’s behind South Central? You either dig the tunes, or you don’t.

Culled from a series of vinyl-only singles on various labels, The Owl of Minerva distills South Central’s output to date into a nine-track experience that slips by smoothly enough. The longest song is the nearly eight-minute centerpiece “Castle of Heroes,” which feels like so many different songs colliding that you hardly notice the running time. Opener “Aeon” is shortest, at 3:45, and functions mostly as a warm-up for the dreamy Technicolor explosions of synths and samplers to come.

To give you an idea where these guys have their heads, they like to cover Josh Wink—their take on “Higher State of Consciousness” is included here­—and Daft Punk, and they’ve remixed the likes of Klaxons, the Wombats, Shy Child and Van She. It’s no surprise, then, to find so much overcaffeinated throbbing and a definitely glossy sheen to their ultra-futuristic disco, which takes a more straightforward approach than recent dance-floor wizards such as Cut Copy and Walter Meego.

Don’t expect psych tinges or rock structure here­­—this stuff is aimed directly at your hips, and if some effects-heavy vocals creep into the mix, it’s merely one more instrument piled onto South Central’s hectic machinations. It’s not bad, but we’ve heard it before.


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