Blending different styles and textures of music is a current that runs through the musical career of New Yorker Quinn Luke, be it through his work with Q&A or the Phenomenal Handclap Band. This desire to add new flavours extends to his nom de plume Bing Ji Ling, Chinese Mandarin for “Ice cream” and to the title of his latest solo album under said moniker ‘Por Cada Nube’ Spanish for “for each cloud.”
Although there are only eight songs on ‘Por Cada Nube’ it is a record which runs a gamut of musical styles darting indiscriminately between sexually charged soul,‘70s singer-songwriter sheen, disco boogie, psychedelic prog-country rock and orchestral arrangements as if the space time continuum backfired depositing this record in the wrong era by accident.
As a result this is a collection of songs best suited to people who embrace the cheesier elements of the seventies as the basslines are afro-sized and the falsetto vocals should be accompanied by a hairbrush with “guilty pleasure” written on the handle.
The fact that four of the eight songs are covers taken from the RAK stable may help to explain why this album feels like a time warp. Every 1’s A Winner surpasses the Hot Chocolate original by giving it a more modern edge while still retaining all the fun of the original. This was no doubt in part achieved by recording the song with the same equipment and pedals in the same studio as the original and applying modern recording techniques.
A rendition of Canadian rockers April Wine’s Could Have Been A Lady is a vast improvement on the original but is probably the weakest song on the album. Bing Ji Ling’s interpretation of Stranger In The City on the other hand blows the John Miles original out of the water with sheer bombast.
Bing Ji Ling’s own compositions bring the inclusion of Could Have Been A Lady into further disrepute. Won’t Wait For Yesterday’s darting funky bass and falsetto vocals and the silky smooth acoustic funk of By And By are far superior. While Waiting Around proves that Bing Ji Ling doesn’t need all the funk bells and whistles to captivate the listener delivering a James Taylor-esque ballad with a simple blend of fingerpicked guitar and heartfelt vocals.
This is the kind of record that people will either love or hate (or pretend to hate but actually love) but either way there is no denying that Bing Ji Ling is a serious talent. Hopefully someday science will give him his time machine.