Behind the dark moon of trip-hop giants (Portishead – Massive Attack) there is a magical world of trip hop bands, hidden in the shadows. One of these bands, are Crustation from Bristol, formed by Ian Dark, Stig Manley and Mark Tayler. With two EPs, ‘Foot Damage‘, and ‘Now ‘Til Never‘, on Cup Of Tea Records, and just one LP, ‘Bloom‘ (!), Crustation becomes a legendary secret in the galaxy of trip hop music. The charming female voice of Bronagh Slevin, spacey, dreamy atmospheres, sleepy beats: all we love in downtempo music are here.

The album starts with the mysterious dark sounds of instrumental Hey, that just prepares us for the first highlight…

Sitting in the silent twilight
The purple half light
Of the twilight
Wrap the night around me
Blanket of black on my back
I feel safe in the darkness

Purple‘ is tripping hedonically into the night, over the trip hop/dub rhythm perfection. The smooth, velvet childlike voice of Bronagh, captures the feeling into a smoky heaven. ‘Purple‘ is a masterpiece that defines the trip-hop sound. ‘Close My Eyes‘ with the subtle echoes of guitars, continues into a melancholic way. ‘Face The Waves‘ is the second highlight of the album. It feels like a space station across a fluorescent sea… Absolutely spacey and futuristic, a unique sensation. ‘Reverie‘ is another excellent song. Melancholic, and lyrical, purified with the strings of The London Session Orchestra. ‘Flame‘ is not only their absolute masterpiece but also one of the most enchanted trip hop/downtempo songs ever concieved — a hymn to pure beauty. Dreamy, ambient at the start; whispering singing leads into a refrain melting in beauty and serenity. The moment at 2.25’, with the strings-crescendo by millennia strings, is absolutely phantasmagorical.

Oh flame’s still burning
She’s not learning
Can’t keep turning
Back discarded memories
Dusty thoughts
Start to tease her

Nocturnal, and spacey, velvet yet mellow, smooth and dreamy, ‘Bloom‘ is the hidden masterpiece. -Lost Gem-, one of the most sensationally kept secrets of trip hop music.

Theodoros Rentesis