The second album from Supreme Beings of Leisure finds them two members lighter (they're now a duo) and sounding a hell of a lot more mature. While their self-titled debut leaned heavily on trip-hop influences, Divine Operating System
(originally almost called Dos
, meaning "two", which makes for a multifaceted
play on words! Oooh!) delves into hip-hop and -- gasp! -- disco sounds as well. If SBL
was a film noir
is the score for a James Bond movie set in Studio 54. The Man With the Golden...
DOS retains all the warmth and soul of SBL's first album; if anything, it's intensified. Singer Geri Soriano-Lightwood has further developed her distinctive style, becoming more versatile and relying less on the AM radio effect -- though there's no shortage of post-production tweaking here. If one vocal track is good, three are better, and what are effects for if you don't use 'em? "Give Up", the CD's first cut, pulls you in with a filtered sample of Soriano-Lightwood singing part of the song's chorus, then bounces into a giddy, hedonistic ass-shaker complete with churning dance beat, strings smooth as silver lamé bell-bottoms and lyrics that exhort the listener to "Just give up, just give in" to the debauchery. Up next, "Ghetto" switches gears and showcases SBL's soulful side. The bass drives the song, and along with finger-snaps, light keyboards and some scratching, it backs up the vocals nicely. The lyrics are more profound than profligate on this track, and offer some actual good advice: don't let negative thoughts get control of your head ("There's nowhere to run, there's nowhere to hide, it's all in your mind / Better let go").
In general, Supreme Beings of Leisure seem to have become more focused on crafting songs than on creating moods -- although each track does have its own distinct feeling, for which programmer/multi-instrumentalist Ramin Sakurai is greatly responsible. Drawing from a diverse array of influences, encompassing trip-hop, hip-hop, several eras of dance music, Eastern flavors and a lot of other stuff that I've probably never heard, Sakurai expertly layers beats, melodies, harmonies and accents. He combines sounds that were perhaps never meant to go together, like the Spanish-seasoned acoustic guitar, house/disco beat and staccato brass of "Touch Me", but it all comes out sounding unified and compelling. The production quality is impressive, especially considering that much of DOS was recorded in a home studio. Must be a hell of a basement.
Divine Operating System has something for everyone (unless, of course, you have a rabid hatred of disco... then you might not dig it too much). You've got your dance beats, your slower trip-hoppy numbers, your sultry voice singing of things meaningful, dissolute and just plain fun. And fun is really the essence of this record. Nothing wrong with that.