Chungking, We Travel Fast

There is a tendency amongst procurators of ‘chill-out’ music to spoil their work with one of two faults. The first potential problem is the inclusion of an irritatingly large number of electronic squiggles, the results of which sound less like music than a game of pinball. Conversely, some acts minimise the depth of sound so far that their recorded work offers nothing new on subsequent listens. This is where Bristolian trio Chungking have struck a winning balance; they offer a rich sound which is created using brass, strings, and harmonies, with computerised noodlings used sparsely enough to remain effective.

We Travel Fast is an unusual album. There are no obvious comparisons which can be made with it; those which initially seem to fit invariably become less well suited after further listening. The focal point of the album the similarly nebulous voice of singer Jessie Banks; sounding simultaneously youthful and mature, she constantly switches between various styles, such as the laidback ambient vocals of Cold Outside and the vocoded squawking of Let the Love In. The latter of these tracks summarises the whole album; it uses ideas not used elsewhere on the record, and is, simply, quite odd.

The incongruity of We Travel Fast, both within itself and against the work of others, is perhaps the reason why, by the end of the year, Chungking will be celebrating the success of this album. Whilst the lack of an obvious choice of single may result in a Dido-style coffee-table ubiquity proving elusive, the slow pace and gentle melodies will ensure that the general public will, nonetheless, be willing to listen. From that starting point, the charming eccentricities of this album will, hopefully, seep into the national consciousness, and take Chungking off people’s coffee tables and into their CD collections.

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