Rick Senley isn't only a very tall young man, as is stated on his blog and various websites: he's also a very productive and multi-talented man. Photographer, journalist, novelist, musician, he's got a lot of fingers in a lot of pies. Moreover, this isn't his only album release this year: he's also the man behind Music for Voyeurs. But a different style requires a different identity, and I Am a Man with a St Tropez Tan is definitely different.
Senley certainly knows how to grab the listener's attention, and he got me with the opening bars of this album: 'I Like Your Mouth' is no pumping club-friendly dancefloor filler, but is, instead, an example of some fairly nasty, aggressive electronica that growls and spits and kicks through some grinding distortion and edgy blips and bleeps. The foot's off the gas a little for 'The Happiest Smile of the Year,' which is altogether mellower, with an almost laid-back groove that has a flavour of the early 90s about it.
If you're looking for sunshine and party beats, you'll be disappointed, but approach this album with an open mind and prepare to be bewildered. 'Get Off Me, I Will Kill You' isn't nearly as threatening as the title suggests - at least to begin with, but the sedate electronica gives way to mangled, echoed vocals and rattling beat that would send a shiver down Trent Reznor's spine. And so it goes: without being nearly so obvious as to alternate between harsh and gentle tracks, there's a definite and deliberate contrasting of moods in the sequencing of this album, and it works well.
It's pretty far out, warped and weird in places, with curious little anecdotes for lyrics ('A Nightclub' - a guitar-based piece that also features the sound of seagulls) or otherwise disjointed samples and phrases that drift in here and there lend a sense of disorientating fragmentation to the sonic picture. At times, the picture is sunny and pleasant, but at others, it's downright dark, as on 'Homage' when Senley snarls in a low tone about disease.
The latter portions of the album are more beats-orientated, but it's fractured, with frenetic bursts of drum 'n' bass and hectic shuffling rhythms snaking through the collage of found sounds, samples and swathes of swirling synths, and the overall effect is quite mind-boggling. No one section last long enough to really get a handle on or for the listener to get too comfortable with. It's a jarring and ambitious collision of seemingly incongruous noises thrown together and somehow, it works, brilliantly. Ultimately, 'I Am a Man with a St. Tropez Tan' is a weird, wired and wacky adventure, a truly inventive and inspired recording.