Bristol-based Ree-Vo are musician and music producer Andy Spaceland (AKA Andy Jenks) and rapper T. Relly and All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo is their new album and it’s a stone-cold instant classic. I’ve often equated going the Joyzine submissions inbox as panning for gold (subjective gold, obviously) and this album shone out like a beacon. Within two songs I had two involuntary reactions: I turned the volume way up and starting head nodding like that manic Churchill dog.
The album starts with a quote from Nicholas Cage’s 2018 tripped out revenge film ‘Mandy’ – “Do you like The Carpenters? I think they’re sensational. This is even better” – spoke by cult leader Jeremiah. A bold start that is entirely upheld by the track ‘We Go’ which is worth the price of the album alone. ‘Boom’ flows like the Avon with reggae bass rumbling under breezy L.A. vocoder and synth, and packing in barely-take-a-breath vocals and a sweet, sweet tune in the chorus (it also ends with a very Bristolian “alright my love”). ‘Groove with it’ is built on a menacing loop; a concrete stomp with vocals darting through the brutalist architecture of its construction, ‘Spacebox’ is full of urgent dancehall propulsion, and ‘Combat’ manages to be both fast and laidback, with a tight bassline bouncing around the gravel pit backing.
If the Wicker Man had had a rap soundtrack, then ‘Nu’ would have been in there with its two-note horror tension, but the killing it references relates to death by “wickedest vibe”, “wickedest flow” and “a truth that nobody knows”. ‘End Of The World’ feels like a fight for optimism in the face of adversity and features some of the best lyrics on the album including “So many man claim to be the next Aristotle, often after finishing the bottle. I’ve always grown up knowing every mickle makes a muckle so, I know nothin’”. ‘Strange Noise’ is a stark leftfield funk, ‘Protein’ has voice and drum machine in lockstep in a throwdown to other rappers (“I expand like X-Men on protein”), and the closing track ‘Dirty Secret’ sits on a woozy background that feels like Lalo Schifrin (the man who scored Dirty Harry) and ends the album with ominous tales of lotharios, sex workers, bad jobs and redundancy, and running up debt. A powerful and unexpected way to finish the album.
All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo is one of the best albums I’ve heard this year. It has enough bounce to shame a trampoline and make a Space Hopper hang up its horns. It’s full of fun and fear, firmly rooted in reality but also giving out dopamine hits of escapism. It’s a cosmos of sounds that swirl around in space and get pulled by the gravity of different musical styles but still manages to stay totally cohesive and beguiling. It holds a mirror up to a broken society but also mines for optimism and this glorious alchemy that happens when Andy Spaceland and T. Relly get together must be making this planet spin a little faster.
All Welcome On Planet Ree-Vo is available on streaming services and to buy as a download, CD and also a vinyl LP (which, if you’re fast comes with a limited 10” of remixes) from good retailers like Norman’s Records.
Review by Paul F Cook