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Shpongle – Nothing Lasts… But Nothing Is Lost

I have a bit of a problem with what seems to be broadly defined as “chill out music”. To me, whether it’s Sigur Ros and their whale noises or the sort of vapid ‘background noise’ that you get in pseudo-trendy bars, it’s just sort of trendy hipster bullshit. Now That’s What I Call Buddah Bar Chillax vol. 785… you know, that sort of thing. It’s not really music for any purpose, it’s just ‘music’ for the bloody sake of it.

Anyhow, surely a genre cannot be completely awful? There must be a couple of gems amid the sea of vacuous nonsense. Shpongle’s 2005 album Nothing Lasts… But Nothing Is Lost is just such a gem.

Broadly speaking, Shpongle fall into the category of psychedelic world music, but wait, come back, they are actually quite good. Nothing Lasts is a journey of an album, split into tracks only by name. Indeed were you to play the album from start to finish you’d be hard pushed to work out where one song ends and another begins. Instead it deals in mood shifts, from the uplifting opening to the bubbly latino pop of standout section Levitation Nation and into darker ambient territory.

It is a boundlessly creative album, drawing inspiration from music of every ethnicity, be they South American beats, Middle Eastern chanting or Indian sitars. It is a truly astonishing work that sadly the group’s (if they are a group, god knows…) other releases failed to live up to.

I never thought I’d say this about anything, but it just might be the perfect “chill out music”.

By Harry Harland