Bumps Per Minute (18 Studies for Dodgems)
Roll Up... Roll Up...
Within the first minute of 'Bumps Per Minute', you are transported back, maybe to a real memory or to a quaint cinematic imagining of a fairground from a long, long time ago. A relentless whirling organ sound, like a Wurlitzer that's been updated by a clever electronics composer, is your guide. All the fun of the fair is there on opener 'BPM 100' (but I still get a whiff of the creepiness 'Waltzinblack' by The Stranglers). Hold on tight.
'Bumps Per Minute' is part of Anna Meredith's new interactive artwork at 'Dodge' (a striking new installation, currently showing at Somerset House). The project has been put together by Meredith and BAFTA-winning interaction sound artist Nick Ryan. Anyone choosing to race one of the bumper cars around the track at Somerset House will generate a unique audio-visual composition and sonic display across the courtyard with every bump, scrape, or collision. This album feels like a window into the myriad of musical possibilities available at the event.
To keep the fairground vibe, the eighteen tracks here seem to eschew such conventional things as introductions and simply just burst into life. As with 'Sawbones' and 'Paramour' on Meredith's last album (Fibs, 2019), there are moments of intense and delirious delight (I imagine that Meredith is a fan of Steve Reich?) But this is more than a non-stop adventure, the mournful synths of 'BPM 108' and the curious suspense of 'BPM 124' are two of the album's most striking numbers.
'Bumps Per Minute' has taken an overly familiar fairground feature and created something that is invigoratingly and fresh. It is a fabulous (and bumpy), ride.