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Old 11-22-2018, 08:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
windsock
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T.D.F. - Retail Therapy

This is one of those WTF albums that make you scratch your head and wonder which idiot savant's idea it was to make it happen. T.D.F (which I guess stands for Totally Dysfunctional Family) was a relatively short-lived project consisting of producer Simon Climie and Eric ****ing Clapton (under the brilliant pseudonym "X-Sample"). From the looks of it, Climie is an on and off producer and songwriter who's done work in groups like Climie Fisher as the other half of a duo with Naked Eyes' Rob Fisher, and Eric Clapton is...well, Eric Clapton. Paul Waller (who's done programming jobs like on Bjork's Debut) provides percussion. A bit of an odd combo between the three for sure but not nearly as weird as the product of their collaboration is.

Born out of a previous collaboration between the two for a 1996 Giorgio Armani fashion show, Retail Therapy is by far the oddest album I've pulled from the mystery bags, and not in the sense that the actual music within is off-the-wall. Essentially what this is is new-age-infused, drum and bass-oriented EDM with Eric Clapton playing over it. It far outstrips Clapton's previous works in terms of weirdness alone, although seeing as for the twenty years leading up to it's release he'd been making some of the most milquetoast, white-collar blues rock known to man, it's not exactly a tough feat.

I'm just gonna get down into the nitty-gritty with this one- it sucks. It sucks big ****ing time. Most of the time the album consists of stock ambient electronica with sickening inflections of new age and R&B- 'What She Wants' literally sounded like I was still listening to 98 Degrees all over again. Clapton's guitar improvisation over the EDM is good in a strictly technical sense but it ultimately lacks purpose because it's not presiding over anything of any real value. Waller's percussion is particularly bad in certain parts, such as on 'Blue Rock' which is a misplaced attempt at mimicking 90's house (and I'm not sure if this is me but the beat sounds straight up ripped from Bjork's There's More to Life Than This. Maybe it's just common, but he did do work on that, remember). The use of the Amen break on 'Seven', which is probably the best track of the bunch, sounds awkward and hollow backing both B.B. King samples and Clapton's electric guitar.

Every idea on this thing feels halfbaked and poorly planned, as if the musicians involved had a concept for what they wanted to do but didn't know exactly how to execute it. Because of this, Retail Therapy ends up sounding more like a mediocre EDM producer who's out of his depth reluctantly wrestling with a guitar legend of yore who desperately wants to be one of the cool kids he's seen doing ollies on television.

SALVAGEABILITY: Look, I know Eric was going through rehab during the creation of this album, but that's no excuse for it sounding so sterile. Ultimately the T.D.F. project bombed like hell because, turns out, nobody wants to hear Eric Clapton ape Moby. A for effort Clap but by god at least proofread your work before turning it in. UNSALVAGEABLE.
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Last edited by windsock; 11-23-2018 at 09:55 AM.
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