- Part of the reason we've not heard much studio output from Richard West recently has been down to him training as an actor. That's led to him being cast as the devil in a forthcoming film, an ideal part for a man who—whether as a tabloid-baiting E-vangelist in The Shamen or rent-a-gob superstar DJ—has often relished playing a cheeky role. Always giving the impression of being the last man standing on the dance floor, you could say that he's taken the method approach by completely immersing himself in the dance music scene—and the last thing you could say about West is that he's ever faking it.
Supposedly, it's West's ire with dance music's fakers that has inspired this new album. He's poked fun at them before in his Sycophantic Slags project with Adultnapper, and they're partly who he's addressing in the lyrics of "Open Up," sung by former Shamen vocalist Victoria Wilson James. Unsurprisingly, this one feels like it could have been by The Shamen. That's even more the case with "Synchronicity," which, with its voiceover about aligning your chakras, feels like an acid flashback to the pseudo-spiritual guff the group used to come up with after falling under Terence McKenna's spell.
Although much of Smell The Coffee was apparently completed over a year ago, it both sounds and looks a lot older, coming with artwork that looks like a Dreamscape tape pack. "The Future" would still be atrocious in any era though. With a cringe-inducing rap from West (berating the self-absorption of modern club culture with such searing insights as "for you are not an ostrich / take your head out the sand") over a rudimentary electro thump, it clearly wants to be Green Velvet's "La La Land," but the sledgehammer sloganeering actually evokes Chumbawamba. Thankfully, most of West's other impersonations are more convincing. "Can't Get Enough" makes a passable stab at Aux 88-style electro; "War Games" could be an early LFO cut; and he's admitted to ripping off Giorgio Moroder's 1978 classic "The Chase" for the Italodisco chug of "The Hunt."
To be fair, Smell The Coffee isn't awful. It just sounds very dated, which wouldn't be too much of a problem if its creator weren't talking about giving other producers a kick in the arse and bringing things to the next level. The fact that West seems to think he's out on his own is less due to him being ahead of everybody else, and more that most have already left before him.
01. Open Up
02. The Future
03. Wake Up
04. War Games
05. Can’t Get Enough
06. Step It Up
09. The Hunt
10. Smells Good