Like De La Soul gone orchestral Ashok are a bizarre fusion of musical elements. Debut album â€˜Plansâ€™ features their unique brand of hip hop meeting soul with a healthy dollop of salsa. â€˜A New Years Anxietyâ€™ is a high-energy romp, with singer Flo Welchâ€™s perky Natasha Bedingfield vocals nestled in between folksy violins and chirpy trumpets.
Keeping the summery vibes going â€˜Lean From The Middleâ€™ is perfect outdoorsy barbeque music, while â€˜Sundayâ€™ would go down well with Corrine Bailey-Ray fans. They shift styles effortlessly into the rootsy jazz of â€˜Radixâ€™ with MC Leo Nathan taking on lead vocals. â€˜Franky Boyâ€™ and â€˜Always Ashokâ€™ sees them take a darker, more cynical turn, but are a touch forgettable in the same instance.
Regaining some of their energy â€˜Under The Thumbâ€™ 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 â€˜Decadenceâ€™ mixes laidback grooves with choppy rap that sounds straight out of a Will Smith film. Losing momentum â€˜Geri Gigoloâ€™ is a more like a mellow Black Eyed Peas and never really gets anywhere.
Aptly named â€˜Slow Tuneâ€™ 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 â€˜Happy Slapâ€™ 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, itâ€™s at once quirky and disturbing and a moment of pure genius.
After spending the record ploughing through a style that doesnâ€™t seem to suit them, it seems that they find at the end without even having to try.