Anna Meredith strikes again – quite literally. The composer and producer has burst into the summer with her latest release, Bumps Per Minute (18 Studies for Dodgems), a sound experience akin to drinking several very strong cups of coffee in fast succession.
Dispensing with percussion, acoustic instruments and vocals, Meredith leans into the electronic style previously explored in her most recent studio albums. Bumps Per Minute feels like the apex of this exploration; Anna Meredith fans will hear familiar musical ideas from FIBS (2019) and Varmints (L&Q’s Album of the Year in 2016) taken to new heights in a total immersion of punchy, circus-music bass lines, synthetic melodies and shimmering textures.
Each track is named after its BPM, but Meredith cleverly subverts the literalism that might be implied by that. Even on the slow and stately ‘BPM 62’, Meredith manages to surprise, gregarious fairground themes and rippling counter-melodies providing an injection of energy. The experience is an adrenaline burst, each aspect of the music functioning together to provide a high-octane antidote to the previous year’s dirge of lockdowns and restrictions. It’s a total sensory hit.
The album is accompanied by an installation of bespoke sound-activating dodgems in the courtyard at her Somerset House residency. Audience members can visit and experience the dodgem ride as an interactive and playful opportunity to influence the composition. Each dodgem has its own unique sound identity, and every thump, bump and swerve triggers a different track. The performance is unpredictable, as players instigate random triggering and shuffling, creating a chaotic yet seamless stream of sound.
Meredith has also launched a ’90s-style microsite to accompany the release. Listeners can play the dodgems virtually at home on bumpsperminute.com, and play for prizes or simply for the nostalgia of feeling like a child on a sugar rush. It’s fun, it’s bold, it’s amazing.
Published in Loud & Quiet magazine, 16 July 2021