Belgian guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer Pierre Vervloesem adds another album to his enormous output. “Not Even Close” is his first solo album since 2005, and it shows Vervloesem in experimental, blissful mood. The first in a series named “P.V. Presents”, this album contains all the candy that its uber-pop cover artwork advertises. And then some. At times unbearable and at times simply great, this is as uneven an album as it gets.
Vervloesem’s range on this one is from the Aphex-Twinesque IDM extravaganza of “Roaccutane” (which I enjoy a lot) to the French-language hip hop of “400 personnes” (not so sure) to afro lounge jazz (which I can’t stand although, to be fair, it might still be well done). Playful percussive patterns are the linking element here but I’d like to know if anyone enjoys the album as a whole. My impression is that “Not Even Close” works best as a compilation. That way, the highlights can stand out. “Compulsory Dance”, for example, which employs nintendo sounds, glockenspiel and euro disco to suggest that the title is deeply ironic. Or standout track “Nishi Guchi No Chugoku No Yadayajin Tachi“, which reminds me of a garage sale take on Aphex Twin’s „Selected Ambient Material“ and is mixtape material for sure.
I’d like to emphasize that my difficulties with this album are not about the styles involved. The difference between these skillful sketches and, say, Modern Love techno or Lex hip hop, is that “Not Even Close” hardly ever indicates that there’s a heart beating somewhere back in the control room. Which helps to ensure the music doesn’t hurt. Problem is: I’d like it to, at least a little bit. 5/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (11 March, 2009)