I’ve certainly been looking forward to this one. Though I may be mistaken – I think that this is the first time I’ll be reviewing something that I’ve helped to fund, via Kickstarter. Nevertheless, I shall remain my usual, impartial self. Interstellar Swing by Tallulah Goodtimes: as a DJ, Tallulah Goodtimes has been on the scene for several years now, and in terms of her tune-selection and mixing ability, she is one of the best. But this is a new for her – her debut album as a producer. Whilst some elect to remain only a DJ, and others prefer creating tracks but never really performing them live, a true test of one’s talent may come in seeing how one can demonstrate their ability in both of these domains. For Miss Goodtimes, this new album represents the culmination of that test.
The album opens with ‘Universal Love’, demonstrating slow and smooth, jazzy influences to begin with. There’s a very live feel to this one, which transcends beautifully into a fantastically catchy beat. Indeed, each different section of the track seems to have its own feel, but there’s no disconnect at all – it flows perfectly. On this track at least, she has definitely proven her production skills; and there’s some nice, positive lyrical themes too, reminiscent of the likes of Captain Flatcap. ‘Zip Zip’ then launches into something different straight away, but still matching the ultimate feel created so far. There’s a really great contrast between the subtle wobbles and gypsy jazz guitar, with very staccato elements interspersed throughout. One level of interest simply isn’t enough here – something new is occurring at every moment; and just when you think you’ve experienced it all, it drops into a new and even better section. This is the type of track that Caravan Palace would have loved to have released early on in their career. And then ‘All I Wanna Do Is Swing’ brings the tone initially down a bit – it’s more laidback, but still very driving. There are some fantastic bass timbres underscoring the rhythm, sounding like a cross between a filthy synth and a sousaphone – and some gorgeous piano parts too. I absolutely love the subtle details scattered throughout each track – and this one is a great example of that.
‘Dark Eyes’ starts off with some almost Middle-Eastern vibes, before bringing the tempo straight back up, for an insanely fast recreation of ‘Mack the Knife’. We have a continuation of the strong gypsy jazz themes, with this track being the best yet for it: the guitar part is spectacular. Towards the end, the song dissolves into an unexpected operatic performance, quickly developing back into a positively massive bassline, which is incredible – this will absolutely kill at festivals. The guitar then continues seamlessly into ‘Billie’, where its expert skill continues to be utilised, before emerging into a solid house beat. The vocals in this one are very poppy in general, being a bit simplistic in the verses – slightly improved in the chorus – but it wouldn’t hurt to be slightly more dissonant at times. However, the electronic underscoring shines again, particularly so in the chorus, showcasing all its minutely detailed elements. And then there’s an absolutely flawless transition into ‘Brass Tacks (Here For A Good Time)’ – one would be forgiven for thinking it’s part of the same song. The subtitle of this track sums up the sound perfectly – it’s a real party anthem, and definitely one for the dancers. There’s a real fun, synth brass section that introduces the song, and overall, it’s the most explicitly electronic piece of the whole album. Indeed, in the breakdown, we even find a quoted scientific passage, giving the track a genuine space-age, sci-fi feel. More than any other, these three tracks really have something of a trilogy feel about them.
Moving on from this, the title track, ‘Interstellar Swing’ then starts off sounding very much like classic electro swing, with all the familiar characters – the brass, the reeds, the house beat, the phase sweeps. There’s some genuine counterpoint here too, that you don’t often hear in this genre, so props go to Tallulah for including something fairly complex within what would otherwise be quite an expected framework. The track features a nice ending too – suitably grand. And the closing track is ‘Touchdown’, which starts off sounding particularly futuristic, bringing together all the elements to contribute to the album’s overall theme. There’s a great, offbeat house pulse, with a tight focus on the downbeat, which creates a very pleasing rhythmic feel. The breakdown towards the end is very sudden and unexpected; and overall, this track doesn’t feel quite as grand as the previous – perhaps not so much like a traditional closer – though given the album’s general themes, it is arguably placed perfectly.
Conclusively then, one can plainly recognise that Tallulah Goodtimes’s DJing skill has transcended magnificently over to her production abilities. She’s clearly got a fantastic eye for detail, and manages to bring a great and identifiably new sound to the overall electro swing style. The clear inspiration from gypsy jazz fuses wonderfully with the futuristic, science-fiction-esque tone to the overall album, giving one a lovely contrasting feel which works excellently. And there are some really nice vocals throughout as well. I for one certainly hope that she continues along this production pathway, and going by what we’ve heard upon this debut, there’s some real potential for her to become a seriously major player across the entire wider scene!
Written by Chris Swinglis Date: 2020-11-01