Tickle Torture, often described as “Prince-level sex funk”, has produced a brief eight song album entitled Lovequake that carries on the Purple One’s particular brand of entertaining funk to the next level with its mix of classic elements from the style and electronic underpinning. The production is superb from first song to last and benefits from a live band guiding listeners through the songs who seemingly never make a single false step. There’s no imitation here, however. Instead, Tickle Torture has taken his influences and filtered them through his own sensibility in a way that makes listeners sit up and take notice. The obvious passion guiding these eight songs is only equaled by the musicality we hear from every cut – it’s obvious that this isn’t just confetti and tinsel strewn across eight songs, empty of substance, but rather a particularly potent expression of musical vision sure to draw listeners in.
There’s a strong soul and R&B presence in these songs as well. The track “Love Gone Wrong”, featuring Proper T, shows off some excellent and sensitively rendered vocals without ever immersing itself in heavy sexuality. However, the music does possess a sensuous unwinding that alternates between physically engaging beats and lush synth lines. There’s stronger pacing with the track “No One Feels for Your Love” emerging from the first, but it’s never overwhelming and it’s clearly set up to provide a heated track for some dance floor shenanigans. The bass and drums are, naturally, key here, but the understated vocal once again illustrates how this music is far from crude and obvious. Tickle Torture has expended a tremendous amount of effort weaving these songs into the visceral compositions they are and avoids any of the self indulgence or painfully obvious simplicity often weighing down others efforts in this vein.
“Stop Falling in Love” has a hard funk pop from the first and never relents. The vocals are quite reminiscent of Prince, but never to an eye-rolling level, and clearly commits to the material from the first line onward. The chorus is especially effective from the first and the intensity level for the song rises nicely without ever rushing the listener through the track. Proper T makes another appearance on the slow, luxurious cut “My Lover” and the sexuality steaming off this performance goes deep beneath the skin from the beginning. It relies heavily on atmospherics without ever becoming too theatrical and the vocal is pure soul and R&B without ever undercutting Tickle Torture’s intentions to seduce and bewitch listeners. There’s also some tastefully rendered guitar lines in the piece that further distinguish it from the surrounding songs. Perhaps the album’s edgiest tune, “Under Your Thumb” gets up close to you and stays there with some dissonant passages reflecting the claustrophobia hinted at by the song’s title. Tickle Torture’s Lovequake will find favor with many thanks to its immense imagination and the earthy, tactile touch Tickle Torture display with each track.