Album cover Welcome - James Pants
WelcomeJames Pants6/10

James Pants - Welcome

6 Jul 2008 macron1

A chance encounter with the 2006 release Chrome Children Vol 2, provided once upon a time via Adult Swim as a free release, lead to this reviewers first encounter with the enigmatic (so enigmatic he doesn't have a Wikipedia page) and hilariously named James Pants. The track happened to be "Murder", a strange little ditty consisting of ethereal synth tones over a hypnotic drum line, backed with audience clapping and chatting, and was a favourite track from the '06. "Murder" whetted the appetite, but ultimately lead to a long and fruitless search for any further work from Pants. He had one track featured on the first Chrome Children compilation, the unsatisfying "Do A Couple Of Things", and maybe "BMX Rhythm Track" on Hella International. Other than that, it has been a long couple of years waiting for new Pants material (zing). Only weeks before the release of Welcome this May, Pants lent his hand "mix[ing] and scratch[ing]" on the obscure release Rhythm Trax: Vol. 1, an assemblage of unnamed curios of questionable value that both annoyed and astounded in its timing, being that it followed an extended period of nothing with a surfeit of material to digest.

To the casual observer (that being one with not a lot of background about the artist (cf. absence of Wikipedia reference), not much about Welcome makes sense. To begin with, most of Pants' label-mate ilk on Stones Throw comprises mostly of Madlib and Madlib being other things, making this one an awkward fit in the first instance. The stop-start nature of the album itself then adds to the senselessness. The opening track "Theme From Paris" is an impressive instrumental featuring a floating drone over some loud drumming, but leads into "Dragonslayer", a disappointing track that never seems to get going. "Crystal Lite" (track 3) is one of two tracks on the album (the other being "Ka$h") that feature an annoying vocal soul/gospel/funk/jazz(?) vibe. This is followed by the mostly good "Cosmic Rapp" – mostly, as it starts unpromisingly, gets saved with some engaging vocoder (or something) action, and then descends into the trite. The record is at this point saved by "We're Through" (warning – link contains actual mp3). "My Tree" with its vocal encoding is annoying (and might even be the same song as "Cosmic Rapp") but then "My Girl" that follows is amongst the finest on the album…

Right now I will apologize for the ball-by-ball commentary, but it is necessary as the record is highly inconsistent – not bad, not good, and not enough of either to merit a definite declaration of …either. And therein lays what is perhaps Welcome's only charm - it is just a bit weird, good, and not-good all at once. Repeated listening can leave one disappointed (especially after the promise of "Murder" all those years ago), but occasionally interested, but sometimes a bit annoyed – but you can’t hate it. This is no mean feat by Pants; how many artists are able to challenge the listener in this way?

Thus it is with these sentiments that this album achieves a score of 5.9/10. Comments: Must try harder, can do better, but then not too bad first up. Listen yourself and see if you can't not disagree.

Sardless Tracks

  • Theme From Paris
  • My Girl
  • Finger On The Knife

Track Listing

  1. Theme From Paris
  2. Dragonslayer
  3. Crystal Lite<br/>feat. Deon Davis
  4. Cosmic Rapp
  5. Were Through
  6. My Tree
  7. My Girl
  8. Prayers of the People
  9. Good Things
  10. I Choose You
  11. Green Rivers
  12. Finger On The Knife
  13. Voodoo Caves
  14. KA$H<br/>feat. Deon Davis
  15. Youre The One
  16. Shower Party