Like De La Soul gone orchestral Ashok are a bizarre fusion of musical elements...
Kate Parkin

14:01 4th April 2007

Like De La Soul gone orchestral Ashok are a bizarre fusion of musical elements. Debut album ‘Plans’ features their unique brand of hip hop meeting soul with a healthy dollop of salsa. ‘A New Years Anxiety’ is a high-energy romp, with singer Flo Welch’s perky Natasha Bedingfield vocals nestled in between folksy violins and chirpy trumpets.

Keeping the summery vibes going ‘Lean From The Middle’ is perfect outdoorsy barbeque music, while ‘Sunday’ would go down well with Corrine Bailey-Ray fans. They shift styles effortlessly into the rootsy jazz of ‘Radix’ with MC Leo Nathan taking on lead vocals. ‘Franky Boy’ and ‘Always Ashok’ sees them take a darker, more cynical turn, but are a touch forgettable in the same instance.

Regaining some of their energy ‘Under The Thumb’ sees Flo singing about a man worse than the devil. Her pouty swoon would sound at equally home in a West End Musical or a seedy backstreet bar. A more salsa led affair ‘Decadence’ mixes laidback grooves with choppy rap that sounds straight out of a Will Smith film. Losing momentum ‘Geri Gigolo’ is a more like a mellow Black Eyed Peas and never really gets anywhere.

Aptly named ‘Slow Tune’ is lazy enough to justify its name, backed by a sweeping orchestral arrangement that would sound sweeter if they had just stuck to the female vocals. The bizarre appearance of Dolly Parton country ‘Happy Slap’ is a welcome break from the routine, a cheeky wink at the end of a monotonous day. A merry jaunt about having a violent argument with a boyfriend, it’s at once quirky and disturbing and a moment of pure genius.

After spending the record ploughing through a style that doesn’t seem to suit them, it seems that they find at the end without even having to try.