If, say, someone was to ask you to wager a guess at what style a group
from Bristol create, centrally comprising a male producer and female
vocalist, it wouldn’t out be out of place to lay a bet on trip-hop
being somewhere in the mix now would it? Enter End of the Line, an
experimental trip-hop/acid jazz project from the home of innovators
Massive Attack, Portishead and Smith & Mighty.
For many, this dub-influenced style which emerged in the early ‘90s has
always had the ability to retain its underground brilliance whilst also
acting effectively as commercial background music. End Of The Line have
a good crack at emulating the seductive sound pioneered almost 20 years
ago now in their home city, though perhaps on the whole somewhat
lacking these groups murky, bass-heavy originality that drew them
immediate attention and Mercury Award acclaim.
Headed by James
Farrell, producer of 16 years and vocalist, End of the Line create an
unmistakeable trip-hop sound clearly coming from the heart. The music is
described as exploring themes of passion, happiness, anger, love, hate,
death and life. Farrell explains ‘when I’m making my music all of these
things come out...Just depends what I'm feeling at the time’. Emotion
is certainly there and the dark, dreamy atmosphere in ‘Yes I Miss Ya’
has shades of songs from Tricky’s brooding genre masterpiece Maxinquaye
(1995). Soulful female vocals and a spoken word style deliver
alternating verses over an eerie melody which certainly sets the mood in
the darker of the themes Farrell describes.
Within the three
songs presented on the groups MySpace there’s sufficient musical
variation to keep the listener interested. All manner of organic
sounding samples are used, including an effective array of strings,
pianos, vinyl scratch and acoustic guitars throughout the tracks.
Amongst the highlights are the soulful, dulcet tones of Joanne Seddon.
In ‘Social Climber’ she draws comparisons to Alison Goldfrapp with her
jazzy, minor-key singing style. Again the brooding male vocals muttering
‘and I am who I am’ are juxtaposed with the poignant tones of female
It’s not immediately obvious what it is about the hilly
city of Bristol that inspires this distinctive sound. The truth is
however that a small but incredibly talented roster of artists
showcasing this original style have emerged over the last 20 years, and
their success continues to inspire current up and coming artists to
expand on their innovation. When it comes to End Of The Line, they
impress. While there’s a lot of similar unsigned material around today;
the talent is there and it’s a dark and engaging formula.