Like much of 20:20 Vision’s recent output, Belgium’s Spirit Catcher cross-pollinate spacey disco vibes with slick electrohouse. The duo have produced a number of lazy, funky originals that have been perfectly acceptable ('Move Closer', 'Spy Waves'), a fine remix or two (their twist on Alb's 'CV209'), but one better was their magnificent rerub of Kirk Degiorgio's 'Starchaser', which proved that these guys have the ability to turn out top-drawer sounds.
Their debut album ‘Night Vision’ oozes a retro-cool vibe. Tracks such as 'Roller Coaster' and 'Sweet Deal' are quite the early ‘80s trip, while 'Motown Spring' is a backward glance to Quincy Jones, a man with a similar knack for producing relaxed, bass-driven funk. It’s a bag of tricks that sometimes works - 'Search is Over' is a reasonable fusion of cosmic synth squiggles and hooky basslines – but often doesn’t - 'Time Emulator' is simply filler, while 'Voodoo Knight' revisits the 'Thriller' bassline for the umpteenth time. It might be a nod to Quincy, but it’s the least convincing track on the album.
Spirit Catcher’s production skills are undoubtedly present throughout, but let’s be honest – they’re ploughing a well-furrowed field. I wonder how many U.S producers have used that phased keyboard and huggy bass sound since the Funkadelic days? Not that that’s always a bad thing, but elsewhere there are other unintentional echoes: The tail end of the title track 'Night Vision' recalls Weekender's great house track 'Hugo Agogo' from '98, while the uptempo closer 'Dirty Circuit' is almost progressive house, like an odd cross between Oakenfold and The Man with No Name.
There are few moments to really savour here, but you sense that this is an album that only touches on Spirit Catcher’s capabilities. Comparisons to Daft Punk from certain quarters are unfounded – in theory, Spirit Catcher might have a similar potential but there’s not enough variation on this album for it to cross over. Aside from 'Space Crash' and Search is Over' – both worth hearing on a good system - the repetition of synth riffs and basslines give it a monotonous feel. Many of the tracks have also been released previously, making this not even really an album in the classic sense. If we are to judge long players by the sum of their parts, then ‘Night Vision’ is decidedly average.
Buy Spirit Catcher - Night Vision at
Tracklist: Spirit Catcher - Night Vision1 Motown Spring
2 Roller Coaster
3 Space Crash
4 Sweet Deal
5 Search Is Over
6 Time Emulator
7 Night Vision
8 Voodoo Knight
9 Hidden Memories
11 Dirty Circuit