In the mid-/late-’90s, this British trio rode the trip-hop fad until there was no more wave left. Their first two albums, Who Can You Trust and Big Calm, were the perfect brood sessions with the grit and gloom of trip-hop and Skye’s dreamily seductive, reverberated vocals. But the wave crashed, and, like rats fleeing a sinking ship, Morcheeba went pop with Fragments Of Freedom. While the change did score them a T.G.I. Friday’s ad, it was an abysmal change of direction.
With Charango, they’ve backpedaled a bit to find a pleasant middle ground between pop and trip-hop. The end result is an intriguing, little project that borders on the smoky edges of lounge. Skye’s voice is still dreamy and sexy, an aural massage to the temples. With the edge and menace gone, the music has more of an ethereal, relaxing feel that flirts with being modern-day Bacharach. Trip-hop is gone forever, and Morcheeba has found a pleasant space for themselves in the wake. With the help of Slick Rick, Pace Won, and Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner, Charango ends up being a nice chill-out session.