I mean, really, you'd have to be a pretty hardened bastard to not enjoy an album title like Chiff-Chaffs And Willow Warblers. It's so darn cute sounding that I personally find myself somehow trying to fit the words 'chiff-chaffs' and 'willow warblers' into my everyday conversation since hearing the release (even though I'm still not completely sure what they mean). At any rate, like the album title, you'd have to also be pretty cold hearted to not at least get a small smile on your face when listening to the music of Minotaur Shock.
As a whole, the album fits into that fuzzy sort of idyllic electronic/organic genre that Four Tet, Manitoba, and even Greg Davis inhabit. Although there are moments where the beat gets bumpin', the majority of the release is an easy-going ride through pretty melodies, clever programming, and the subtle use of samples. Usually only comprised of three or four different elements, tracks from the group (mainly one man David Edwards) are never cluttered or dense, and their simplicity is actually somewhat welcome and part of the charm.
"Roman Answer" mixes a quiet, yet slightly abrasive beat with a sweet melody, while each element gets tweaked and cut at several moments during the track. At a couple points, a thicker low-end beat rumbles in, but never overwhelms things, and wanders out of the mix just as quickly. "Moray Arrival" layers together several elements until a chiming harmony is built while more skittery percussion dances behind it. To offset things, a chunky, almost hip-hop beat lurks around every so often, giving the track a somewhat darker edge.
With the help of 'Stu and The Hombre,' "Local Violin Shop" arrives as one of the best tracks on the disc. Mixing live percussion with programmed beats and building with some nice Rhodes and piano sounds, it reaches a loud crescendo that kicks things up a notch about halfway through the disc. "Out Of The Hot" thumps along with sort of a click-hop beat while yet another simple and lovely melody, yet simple (think early Aphex Twin) floats over things.
Encorporating a flute and some old record pops and hiss on the last track "Primary," Chiff-Chaffs And Willow Warblers goes out on a very nice note. Fans of Múm would easily be enthralled. If you can't get enough of the group (or the Melodic label in general), you'll be glad to know that an exclusive track from the group is included on the recently-released A Room Full Of Tuneful compilation at a bargain price. Creating music for your lazy summer days, Minotaur Shock has come out with a very solid debut release after a batch of singles for the label.