SLAM. Dark Forces Remixes. Soma 45cds

            The final track from the excellent ‘Headstates’ debut album by duo Stuart McMillan and Orde Meike better known as Slam features four remixes and the amazing original version of ‘Dark Forces’. The Claude Young mix gives the single a hard Detroit image whereas the Kenny Larkin version combines some harshness with inventiveness and the outcome is much more satisfying. The ‘Sick Organ’ remix was lifted from the Full Circle compilation album. ‘Plastic Jazz’ is only available on the cd format. Underground dance is moving on from it’s predictability and although the remixers are trying hard to improve on the original, in reality it’s a hopeless task. (Phil Brook)

 

QUBISM. Emit 2294

            1994 was a good year for Emit collectors, this being the 3rd album in the series. Qubism, a name difficult to forget, sprang onto the scene with a full length release. The track ‘Anthropomorphic’ was included in the compilation 0094 although here it’s running time has been almost doubled. It was previously superb and now it’s even better because of the electronics, Japanese style surrounding mellow themes of haunting experimentation. The results are breathtaking, at long last a company who really care about music, and are willing to allow artists from all around the world to challenge the previously held belief that experimental music was only for the performer and not for the listener to enjoy. Even employing techno on ‘Repercussions’ doesn’t detract from the melodically generated. Today, this is as fresh as any other material available. This series boldly goes where no record company goes before so trek of into the excel zone! (Phil Brook)

 

RED SNAPPER. Prince Blimey. Warp CD45

            Of all the artists signed to Warp records, these are the ones that don’t appear to fit into the modern electronic techno sphere,. For a start they use real instruments and play as a band. Surely the record company have not made a drastic change of direction. Certainly not as Red Snapper use their instruments to the limit to explore interesting sounds, this technique is definitely not standard. The line up consists of guitarist David Ayers, bassist Ali Friend, drummer Richard Thair and wind instrumentalist Ollie Nocre. The results are startling, electronic music without the electronics, the style is all their own not borrowed or sampled from elsewhere. The opening track ‘Crusoe Takes A Trip’ is brilliant. There’s only one track with lyrics and this is sung by Anne Haigh. An album that slowly grows and as my initial thoughts were of an extremely high standard you will now appreciate the esteem in which I hold the band. (Phil Brook)

 

SIMON FISHER TURNER. Shwarma. Mute. CDSTUMM151.

            I really do believe that there is some form of divine intervention. It was only recently received an intensely superb album by Simon Fisher Turner, on Humbug Records, called Revox Volume 1, and I was wondering when Volume 2 would come out. Well, this isn’t quite Volume 2, but it’s probably the nearest we’ll get. It’s also as good, if not better than the above. As usual, it’s full of soundbites, recorded by SFT on his travels around the globe. He’s also enlisted the likes of Kate St. John, Bruce Gilbert and Jocelyn West. Unlike Revox, this is more than just a solo album, and the landscapes unfold like an aural map. This is a very successful experimental album that adds yet many more facets to the world of ambience. (Dave W)

 

BLECH. Blech. Warp CD44

            Is this a compilation album by various artists on the Warp label or by Blech.—’ Well both really as Strictly Kev and PC of Ninja Tune’s DJ Food have been unleashed in the ballroom vaults of the Cavendish Buildings to cut up, dress up and serve a remix package that is as outstanding as the originals are. Artists featured whose music has been reconstituted include Autechre, Aphex Twin, LFO, Nightmares On Wax and Red Snapper, all pioneers of the electronic groove. The ambient world of B12 has been shocked by the inclusion of a Jungle beat. All the tracks have been put together to blend into a continuous mix with some of the tracks being divided into quarter segments to make up a 23 track album. A word of warning, this is not to be confused with the original cassette only version released back in December 1995 as the track listing is different. Yet another classic from the Warp stable this time only available on cd. Press play to begin and then press repeat. (Phil Brook).

 

LOOM FEATURING BILLY MACKENZIE Anacosta Bay. Millenium Mill 022CD

A single of over 42 minutes duration giving tremendous value for money and featuring Billy Mackenzie who initially rose to fame in the 80’s with the Associates. Four different mixes including the instrumental with the building electronic catchy background spinning a rich collage of sounds in a melodic fashion. All the tracks retain the same theme yet are sufficiently altered to prevent repetition. The instrumental is excellent in itself, and with the vocalist it is enhanced. Hopefully a chart winner! PS, I like the 9 minute 23 second radio edit that will cause problems for the standard 4 minute radio slot (Phil Brook)

 

APHEX TWIN. Richard D James. Warp CD43

How can Aphex Twin continue his techno trip into the mid nineties when this type of music is now considered by some to have become staid and very predictable? His reply is emphatic as James exploits the latest beats and invents new ones which unfolds into a typical outing of electronic mayhem. Ten shortish tracks allows the musical author to ring the changes between tracks like ‘4’ and ‘Peek 824542.011, where the mellow meets the harsh and boundaries disappear at an alarming rate. On ‘Fore Street’ a more standard approach is used to provide an easy listening (well easy for Aphex) segment on this well crafted album. I was surprised by the ‘Girl/Bay Song’ where a ‘string quartet’ is joined by an extremely fast jungle beat - a song that works exceptionally well. A much shorter cd lasting only 33mins, yet Aphex is still one of the best which the rest can only admire. (Phil Brook)

 

MOBY Animal Rights. Mute CD Stumml5O

Having missed Moby’s previous release ‘Everything Is Wrong’ Mixed and Remixed, it’s good to acknowledge that the man is still willing to show what diverse type of music he can still perform and write. The clash between the opener ‘Now I Let It Go’ with the succulent violin playing of Hahn Rowe and the following heavy metal effect of ‘Come On Baby’ is so strident, the listener will wonder what genre he is supposed to be entrenched in. Moby plays drums, guitars, bass and keyboards and uses tongue in cheek titles life ‘Soft’ to show a slightly lighter (!) side of the heavier scene with lyrics to match. He is very angry about the lack of animal rights. The normal dance area has been left alone and apart from the first and final two tracks, Moby is in a very heavy metal music mode. (Phil Brook)

 

LUNAR DRIVE. Here at The Black Mesa, Arizona. Nation NR1076CD

Enter one Sandy Hoover, armed with a video camera who recorded typical North American experiences in Arizona for Channel 4 viewers. Why loose an opportunity for a musician/editor/web-surfer to produce a tv programme only when an album was possible. Surely this would only be a soundtrack anyway. The answer is surprising as she has sought the assistance of a respected producer with an impeccable record of sympathetic understanding, Count Dubulah of Transglobal Underground fame who’s distinctive multi - cultural dance production techniques are used to fill out the soundscore with fascinating, intricate rhythms and loops of desolate beauty. ..South Dakota is like a cross between the slower vocal sections of Enigma and up tempo dance music. The following piece Wupatki Crater features the spoken word of Rey Cantil set to an electronic score. I read the press release before listening to the album and it did not do justice. Lunar Drive speed down the highways of Arizona in a vehicle of class. Reliability guaranteed. (Phil Brook)

 

NEURONIUM. Numerica. Thunderbolt. CDTB 082.

A couple of years ago, Modern Dance got an album from Thunderbolt by a guy called Michael Huygen. I can’t, off hand, remember what it was called, but the point is, Neuronium is Huygen’s band. What I find rather ironic is that the band members in Neuronium (or, they are on this album) are, none other than Michael Huygen... and that’s it! Synthesizers rule the day on this 8 track/8 movement album. It was recorded in Spain back in 1989, and fortunately (unlike Pete Baumann and Ashra’s later Virgin albums) it doesn’t slip into what I call Europop. Extreme Limits, Promenade, Deep Illness Of Love and Au Revoir are pretty impressive pieces that on the one hand enlighten and lift the heart, then, by turns, bring about a deep and foreboding mood. A terribly overlooked synth ‘band’. Check it out. (Phil Brook).

 

VARIOUS. Viva Diablo Blanco. Indochina. ZEN013CD.

Cracking taster/sampler from Indochina that contains some tasty gear. Okay, so there’s a picture of a snow boarder on the cover, don’t let that put you off! Bands such as Apollo 440, 808 State, Art Of Noise, Fila Brazzillia, Morcheeba and Omni Trio. I must confess, however, to going truly apeshit over the one track by Grantby. The track in question is called Timber, and contains a truly remarkable use of what (I’m sure) is a sample from You Only Live Twice - not the actual song, the movie. The unmistakable sound of Barry’s strings and orchestral strut is there, shadowed by a little bit of scratching - remarkable. There’s 13 tracks in all, producing not only a big fat playing time, but it should produce a big fat smile on your face. (Phil Brook).

 

VARIOUS. Anthems For The Chemical Generation. Virgin.724384472924

Compilations like this one are being released in such profusion, it is becoming more difficult to decide which fit into the highly recommended category. All the tracks bar two are very well known, some perhaps too well known like Fools Gold by the Stone Roses and the Sabres Of Paradise’s Smokebelch 1. Add Underworld’s Born Slippy (Nuxx mix), the Future Sound Of London’s We have Explosive (Part 1) and the original version of Inner City Life by Goldie. Another popular selection is Alex Reece featuring Deborah Anderson with Feel The Sunshine and the message becomes clear, no chances have been taken to deviate from the safe path. As mentioned earlier, the only tracks that may not have been heard are the Propellerheads Spybreak! and Back Tae The Auld Skool by Craig Smith. It all starts with the still memorable Pacific 202 by 808 State, flows into Chime by Orbital and then continues with the original mix of the Sun Rising by The Beloved. There’s even the Choppers Mix of a Black Grape song and Don’t Fight It, Feel It by Primal Scream. The other track to complete this album is the Witewash edit of Fluke’s Absurd. To recap, the fourteen tracks offered here are popular anthems for the chemical generations and this is the musical equivalent of a coffee table book. So it is quite easy to listen to this album that contains ideal music for the car cd. (Phil Brook)

 

PLAID. Undoneson. WARP. WAP95CD

It was with great personal regret when the North London collective known as The Black Dog split after the release of their excellent Spanners Album. It was hard to imagine that such talent could stay idle for any length of time and the remaining two members have reverted to the name Plaid. Ed Hanley and Andy Turner work presented here only lasts for quarter of an hour, yet within that short time they had me completely hooked. The title track is very inventive, the second (Spudink) very melodic and the finale Headspin has a pseudo drum ‘n bass feel, where the emphasis is on gentle melodic lines of lasting quality. It’s smooth and not in any way bland. This short single heralds great instrumental electronic music from their forthcoming album Not For Threes. Get it, I certainly will! (Phil Brook)

 

 

JEAN MICHEL JARRE. Oxygene 7-13. Epic. 486984.

Carrying on in the great tradition of revisiting old haunts (ala Oldfield), Jarre has given us another seven chunks of Oxygene. Granted, it’s not quite the Part II scenario (or is it?) - to be truthful, who gives a damn - if the music’s good, then let’s listen. I had the opportunity of going to see this gent in Manchester recently, and was simply overawed with the whole experience. It was great to hear the old numbers come chugging out of the analogue, and half-remembered pieces came tumbling forth via the superb lights and the hellishly loud PA. In and amongst the old, and not so old, material from this album was presented. Part 7 indeed opened the show, the new single, Part 4, closed it. Inbetween we were treated to the amazing Part 11, which really gets those neck hairs to raise. Like I once heard about Tubular Bells part II, the room is the same, but the furniture has been moved. Jarre has produced a superb album that betters some of his later albums, and goes a long way to show that this man is a really gifted visionary who is capable of producing some of the best popular electronic music there is. (Dave W).

 

 

CRESCENT. Electronic Sound Constructions. Snapshot. CLK 001CD.

As the cd back sleeve states, this is a cd of home recordings by one member of the Crescent Quartet. The album isn’t easy going, at first, but if you have a broad sense of adventure, and enjoy having the odd challenge thrown at you, then this will fit the bill very well. The inner sleeve notes are about as informative as Roswell, so I’m afraid I can’t give you too much about who what or why. What I will venture forth is that it isn’t an album you’d put on at a party! Personal involvement is of the essence here, and I can distinctly hear people uttering what the hell’s this? But battle on, brave soldier, as there is some interesting diversions to be had. I won’t say that the music is utterly brilliant because I don’t think there was that much that went in to it. What does come across is the superb spontinaity, and that’s what counts. (Dave W).

 

RONNIE & CLYDE. In Glorious Black And Blue. SWIM. WM15

My first, and I am glad to say lasting impression of the instrumental music of Ronnie & Clyde came from the excellent Swim compilation double album released not too long ago, where the representative track Last Hand was well above the standard required. It’s jazzy overtones will stay with me for a long time. John Ross and Robert Fitzpatrick have released an album that demands attention. The second track Theme From A Lazy Life starts and finishes with choral singing, throw in, in a very structured way of course drums and acoustic bass then provide the rhythm with other electronic sounds that expands the sound to make a magnificent instrumental of distinction. If you like me enjoy a heavy meaty bass, then this album is for you. Macro-Scopic contains a fast jungle beat in comparison to the following track Twice Removed, where a gentle beats contain an easily hooked melody and a dreamily treated acoustic guitar. It’s now only at the half way stage through the album and being disappointed is one of the thoughts furthest from my mind. The tenth and last track The 33rd Caller is slower with dreamy bass lines and piano like riffs with just the right tempo to gently lull the listener off to sleep after hearing what is really a very good album. They indulge in a variety of subtle styles and they deserve your support. After playing this album in glorious black and blue, I hope to colour your judgment. (Phil Brook)

 

 

BABY MAMMOTH - One....Two....Freak - Pork - CD044

Their last album was quite a surprise, as it was one of the best tonics that I have heard for bringing someone out of the dumps and making the observer feel much happier. Although this album does not have quite the same effect, I still muse at the track listing which states such obvious things as Skidding On All Fours, Warm Air Rising and Sound In Your Mouth. The third track entitled Additive is as addictive as they come with deep rolling bass, loud drums and a beat of a dance nature. Luna Park continues the trend with slightly unusual percussion grafted onto a faster riff and neatly fitted with a slower haunting melody. This is a fine exponent of their creativity which is used to the full. They have a distinctive flare for blending melodic overtones with harsh drum patterns and guitars and, in particular on Zen Butchers it appears to combine three differing sections into just one piece. Basilica is a typical example of their beguiling, simplistic approach to composition which completely retains the beautiful choral arrangements. Foxy Grandpa uses a rather weepy sample to fascinate the mind from the backing drum loops and bass and as such is incredibly infectious. I am still waiting for the album filler (ie the weaker track) perhaps it’s the final piece Level Freak? No it’s another good track this time featuring a trip hop beat. This album is much better than their last and that was very good. Electronic music has taken another turn and I just want more, More, MORE! Probably one of the most underrated duo from New Yorkshire (Kingston Upon Hull) or even the UK. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Electronic Drum & Bass. Lodestone. YUMMYCD2.

How far has drum ‘n bass developed since it’s inception? The answer can be found in this 60 min slice of electronics that improves this now familiar genre. The first thing to strike me is how exceptionally mellow the opening track by Mellofonic is, but please don’t take the word mellow to mean bland because this piece entitled Zen Buddies is really the most chilled out drum ‘n bass that I have ever clapped my ears on and as a result it receives an excellent rating. Their debut album is awaited with great interest. The next track by Robots & Humanoids is just another name of R.H. Kirk, who is a noted pioneer of musical electronics and on Robot this true pioneering material can be intoxicating at the same time. Mig’s String Filter appears on the surface to be a straight forward example of the type apart from the lush sample of diy stores music that beautifully balances the stark with the syrupy. Not many of the tracks feature fast and furious drum beats, but some such as Mystery James Blokes’s Dark Basic Life Form is even slower than you would imagine and in my opinion better much for it. B Scale are two former East Germans who deliver a brilliant musical version of Jekyll & Hyde. The final track by Doktor Uggs (!) is unusual as it features a harp on this lovely Desert. In general the usual stripped down sound is no longer prevalent and artists have resorted to much more inventive structures whilst still using the drum ‘n bass feel. In short this is an album of distinction. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Dream Mixers. Virgin CDVD86.

Subtitled a non stop dance mix 97, these all time classic anthems have been put together to fill longer segments of music lasting for the most part in excess of ten minutes. A typical example is the opening track which slices four pieces of known material into almost thirteen mins. The very well known X Files and Higher state Of Consciousness are entwined with Offshore and Seven Days And One Week. Some of the other tracks which are included on the first disc are the bouncy Rhythm Of The Night and Underworld’s Born Slippy. Other highlights include Moby’s Go on the fourth track and the chart hit Rhythm Of The Night as part of the fifth sound collage. On the second disc, of the five offerings the final seventeen plus mins only contains four individual section. The two by Robert Miles are the well respected Children and Fable which are followed by DJ Quicksilver’s Bellissima, a current favourite and it finally ends with the almost singalong I Love You Stop. Unfortunately there is no information as to the identity of the Dream Mixers, but they do a very good job of it all. Why should I recommend this album above all the other mass releases when they may appear to offer more up to date songs? The answer is quite simple, not all up to date songs will become classic anthems. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Electronic(Full On Beats). Virgin. VTCD131.

Where as the other recent compilation Anthems For The Chemical Generation is more designed for the less serious listener, this double album is much better, mainly because it allows a greater diversity of tracks in the electronic mainstream to be presented in a balanced way. Although it contains some of the same tracks as on the Chemical Generation like the Future Sound Of London’s We Have Explosive, Goldies’s Inner City Life and Underworld’s Born Slippy, the other 31 show the range from the power of Orbital live in New York (Satan) to the brilliant finale by Massive Attack (Protection The Eno Mix). It all starts with those Block Rockin Beats the original version by the Chemical Brothers and navigates via a rather impressive Hardfloor mix of It’s No Good By Depeche Mode to the single version of Leftfield/Lydon’s Open Up, to the Grid’s Rollercoaster (Original) and finally ends the first disc with the 440 Radio Edit of Apollo 440’s Ain’t Talkin’ About Dub. Continuing onto the second silvered spinny thing, the full length Dream Version of Children by Robert Miles makes a change from the normal mix available on a lot of other albums. Also of interest is the Daft Punk remix of Life is sweet by the Chemical Brothers. I still love the delightful infectious sound of Wilmot by the Sabres Of Paradise and although it is only the shorter version, the trumpet notes will be repeatedly sung in ones head. Everything But The Girl contributes just one track, that is Walking Wounded the Dave Wallace Remix, which is another hidden masterpiece. I could go on, but the above are just some of the edited highlights, you probably could come up with an entirely different choice to mine, but to do that you’ll need this double album. Now there’s a hint. (Phil Brook)

 

BANCO DE GAIA. Big Men Cry. Planet Dog BARK CD025.

Few artists can hold the attention of the dance media for long and still be in their good books, however Tony Marks has previously released two spectacular studio albums and a live set recorded at Glastonbury that certainly caught and held the attention of those writers. It was now time to return to his own studio and put together a new collection of pieces with a subtle change of direction. Instead of featuring global samples as the main source, the emphasis is towards using real instruments, partly due to the increasing problems of obtaining clearances for their use. For instance, the saxophonist Dick Parry of Dark Side Of The Moon fame is featured on the track called Celestine, which has a similar composition to many a Pink Floyd piece. The album starts with Drippy, a percussive section built around a drop of water sample and evolves into a dancey track. Big Men Cry is dripping with those lush themes and a haunting style of violin playing, where the melancholy balances the uplifting sections in just about the right proportions. The final accolade is a 19 min glorious track about the Starstation Earth where you will find a musical welcome to the homeworld. There’s nothing to cry about here, just plenty of rejoicing where Banco continues to release spectacular albums. (Phil Brook)

 

COLIN NEWMAN - Bastard. Swim. WM3

Although this CD cover states 2 CD’s, this is not strictly a double album, rather an album and an ep from ex-Wire man Colin Newman. The title and one fingered salute displayed on the front cover may alienate some prospective purchasers, I think it should draw your attention to a fascinating trip across the musical barriers. For starters a dance beat with guitars may lead you to think this sets the mood. The second, called May uses distorted lead guitar to provide the melody while the very solid rhythm is in the care of bass and drums. The next piece is even better as he shows his grasp of all types of music is firmly held in his fingers. Slowfast (Falling Down The Stairs) is his reply to the current drum n bass craze and he uses lots of different gadgets to make a track that is asking to be noticed. The fourth installment Without benefits from the use of string instrumentation and is certainly one hell of a catchy tune. After the standard dance type beat of the fifth track, the blending of guitar and electronics is boastful to a point where the riffs, melodies and tunes all explore the edges of what is called normal and at times the results make you believe it’s just a ordinary instrumental rock band, such as Spiked. Don’t be fooled, as he mixes certain telephonic sounds into the overall aural picture with the help of Robin Rimbaud scanning the airwaves on a track from the ep. With a pedigree of fine albums released, Newman with the help of Malka still proves the ability to compose and produce music of very high quality has not been lost. Just one of the many aspects of amazement found on this album is the variety of styles. This is no bastard - it’s a thoroughbred. (Phil Brook)

 

SQUAREPUSHER. Big Loada. WARP. WAP-92CD.

Squarepusher’s (aka Tom Jenkinson) previous album Hard Normal Daddy was in my opinion a milestone in the history of the recorded sound, not because of any startling development in hardware, no, just the achievement of breaking out of the rather confining strait jacket of jungle and pushing it to it’s limits. This seven track cd of previously unreleased material is superb. The drum beats on the opening track A Journey To Reedham (7AM Mix) are at times at lightning speed and the associated strong melodies prevent the music degenerating into a cacophony of noise. After the second track, which the drums are only marginally slower, the previously mentioned super fast drum snare beats hit home to contrast with the ever so melodic tune of Massif (Stay Strong). The forth shows his mastery of the bass guitar. After another harsh track, the sixth (Tequila Fish) reverts to the more melancholy sounds, at least during the first half before the drum ‘n bass vein pervades the latter. The final track Jacques Mal Chance (Il n’a Pas Chance) uses slightly off key sounds to make a short section that could almost be danced to. Although this will not help to popularize drum ‘n bass music, his ideas are so wonderful and ahead of their time, he must surely be regarded as a genius eventually. It might just take the public a little longer to catch up with his music. (Phil Brook)

 

AUTECHRE. Cichlisuite. Warp. WAP96CD

The duo's last single was a bit of an eye opener as they tore down the last vestiges of musical boundaries and modified the sounds from the insides. They are not content with just being experimentalists of electronic music, they wish to alter the very fabric of modern instrumental music. Although labelled as a single, this is really a half hour ep that continues the good work of the previous offering and dare I say contains the odd easy listening section. The less well versed may describe this as electronic noodling or dabbling in comparison to my opinion of bold compositions that certainly work well together. I wish there were a lot more musicians of this caliber producing quality material. It all starts with Yeesland, a track that contains unusual harsh sounds which compete with an almost syrupy melodic line to complete the formula. This is followed by the even harsher Pencha which makes appreciation more difficult. Characi is the best, mainly due to the intriguing use of seemingly odd loops of samples that don't appear to fit, yet the results are an undeniable success. It finishes all too quickly for me after seven mins had elapsed. Krib is slower and much more mellow and the final track Tilapia exhibits a peculiar charm. The cutting edge of music and Autechre are never far apart and you won't find many of these sounds on any other packages. Very fine indeed. (Phil Brook)

 

 

ZART. Zart. Millennium. MILL029CD.

My mind is never closed to any new act, just because they are unknown does not mean they are lacking in musical ability. There's always little bit of excitement for me when a new debut album is about to be played for the first time, perhaps at my age I am easily pleased! Zart hails from Mersey side and the first track, Dark & Deep, surprises with funky sounds blended into a totally melodic dub tune whilst escaping any semblance of possible blandness. Dig Deeper is a little like the output of u-ziq mixed with Children Of Dub. He also dabbles with trip hop and drum'n bass and the ghost of Kraftwerk's musical inspiration occasionally permeates. The glorious dub type bass resounds and fills the head with gorgeous notes, all this care of the track called Dwate. Just as you may have detected a repetitive theme, the next track could be from a classical piano concerto except for the strange background noises that suddenly develop into a Led Zep style riff. Unusual to say the least and jolly good musical fun. The seventh track offers another lurch in a different direction, lyrics with a strong language content dubbed onto a varied and often changing theme which all slot together perfectly. The ninth is a great dub or is it drum 'n bass track. The production is first class, so naturally headphone listening is heartily recommended. It's not often that an album is likely to excite reviewers and public alike yet this is pleasurable listening, so go on indulge yourself. For a debut album, the maturity of composition shown is breathtaking, Zart should not be described as a promising newcomer, but as an exceptionally gifted musician. (Phil Brook)

 

TANGERINE DREAM. Oasis. TDI Music. TD1007CD.

I didn't realise 'til the album came through, that it was actually an album that contained music from the original piccy, and was indeed a soundtrack! Mind you, I've not heard of the film. This version of TD is back to Edgar and Jerome (Froese). Being fair to the lads, it's actually one of the best albums I've heard by the Froese's and looking at the sleevenotes it would appear that Oasis is a kind of geographical documentary. The subtitle is Natural Wonders Of The American Southwest - I'd love to see, and hear, it. There are eight tracks that sparkle with originality and a freshness that's been lacking in one or two of TD's late-period material. One or two of the titles give you a bit of a visual starter, such as Summer Storm, Waterbom and Flashflood, but stuff like Zion and Cedar Breaks don't give too much away. This initself is no bad thing as your mind is left, unfettered, to wander without influence through the colourful and magical synoptic landscapes created by the Froese's. Pretty effective stuff - even without seeing the film. (Dave W.)

 

VARIOUS. Untouchable Outcaste Beats Volume One. Outcaste CASTE 3CD.

A veritable cornucopia of eastern influenced music with western foundations that, it has to be said, form a pretty interesting list of goodies. Some of the styles are very familiar, and so, are too, some of the names: Natin Sawhney and stuff from the 70s psychedelic sitar-funk classics from Dave Pike Set and Amanda Shankar. It has to be admitted that a lot of Indian and/or Pakistan music is okay when it's instrumental, but quite a lot of the vocal styles leave me cold. Fortunately most of the aforesaid vocals are quite acceptable. All in all its a very stylish album that opens yet even further the doors of musical perception. (Dave W).

 

SALARYMAN. Salaryman. City Slang. EFA#04996

Two years ago in Illinois, a quartet was formed to accompany a female singer. The resultant music worked so well, the band decided to experiment with lo-fi grungy guitars which they describe as a basement music' project ie music that you would play in your basement if you have such a luxury. The seven tracks lasts for 40 mins and were recorded without the use of over dubs but did include live TV broadcasts to enhance the overall effect. This will not be to everyone's liking and you certainly won't hear any of these on Songs Of Praise. The album should be by expectation, a lo-fi event yet the acoustic drums are presented in full frequency and therefore mitigates to some extent the style. The music does not contain many riffs or melodies, instead it relies on a collection of samples above the beat which are not in any way discordant or out of place. Inca Picnic is a typical example of the new format and I cannot think of any other purveyors who I can compare them to. Apart from the organist and drummer, the other members of the band mix samples and broadcasts etc into the final mix. On New Centurions, the sampled noises are carefully structured to become an integral part of the rhythm. The last track uses an odd collection of notes and an occasional riff with bucket loads of distortion to achieve a tuneful instrumental piece with TV dialogue. It may be slightly uncomfortably to appreciate what they are doing yet amongst all the drones there is a refreshing spirit of adventure. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Fused. Polygram TV 553 482-2

After the great success of the first double CD compilation of the new directions in dance (called Wired), there had to be a follow up. This time it is subtitled 3 5 New Directions in Indie-Dance and it features an impressive who's who of well known artists/bands playing some of their better material. The album starts with a modern mix of an old TV theme, The Saint by Orbital and finishes with the 711 edit of Darkheart by Bomb The Bass. The Hardfloor mix of It's No Good by Depeche Mode does not thankfully, live up to it's title and the Propellerheads mix of 808 State's Lopez is rather tasty. The Charlatans latest album contains a couple of songs where the Chemical Brothers have assisted and they have remodelled Nine Acre Dust for inclusion. Add tracks by Leftfield/Lydon, The Grid, New Order, Robert Miles and yet another remix of Josh Winx's Higher State Of Consciousness (Dex & Jonesy's Higher Started Mix). If that was not sufficient to satisfy, the second helping has The Orb, Portishead, Underworld, Orbital, Bjork, Goldie and Alex Reece. The 7" original of Papua New Guinea by The Future Sound Of London is a very worthy addition as is the drum n bass version of So Many Dreams by A Guy Called Gerald (Aquasky Radio Edit), a name to follow closely for the future. With over 150 mins of playing time and the choice of artists, how could anyone criticise the format of music. (Phil Brook)

 

BABY MAMMOTH. Bridging Two Worlds Pork 042

The duo of Blissenden and Burdall recording under the name of Baby Mammoth presents an instrumental package of modern sounds to spread happiness. A certain amount of patience is required to grasp all the fine detailed music in one go, yet the average person should have no problem in accepting these uplifting proceedings. Applegate introduce the style which is basically trip-hop with a jungle beat and jazzy influences surrounding a sample of the words of Bishop Desmond Tutu. The next track, Musk Tusk has a lovely bass heavy production with squelchy synths and those gaps are beautifully filled with rhythm guitar, whereas the next piece Hoodwinked contains some wondrous notes above the basic tune and is one of those songs that is very infectious with an almost cheesy effect. The jazz tinged delights continue with Slipping Jigsaw, but my favourite is the deep bass lines adapted on Sly Times, which balances these with saxophone passages above eerie synths. If you are feeling a little low, then please allow this album to improve your mood and hence well being. My lasting impression is of a basic trip-hop sound with sufficient variation to make the difference. There should be no sad faces in the audience. (Phil Brook).

 

FREDDY FRESH. Chupacabbra Harthouse HH112

Consisting of the original from the rather good debut album, two remixes, and a bonus track, this 12" single has loads of electro beats which are spewed out of those analogue synths in such a format as to give the music a warn feel. The Base Bins Twin remix wakes the listener with the use of a very loud siren and the Propellerheads remix is another variation of the basic beat. The bonus track Mi Esposa Mas Fina is somewhat remarkable as it reminds me of a samba type rhythm. It's not what you would expect from this guy, break beat formation dancing perhaps. Of all the tracks, I still prefer the original. When it comes to producing material, this man lives up to his surname. (Phil Brook)

 

DAFT PUNK. Homework Virgin UKCDV 2821

Not since the launch of Jean Ifichele Jarre's Oxygene twenty years ago has there been so much interest in the musical output of France. Daft Punk, who are Paris based, first came to my attention via tracks on the excellent compilations released on Soma Recordings. So I was excited by the prospect of their debut album. First surprise, the impressive Musique is not included (shame!) and secondly, the album does not disappoint. Most artists copy others or only make minor changes to similar material, whereas Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homen Christo have developed their own individual style. They like to continually alter the tone controls on some of the songs. Of the many good tracks out of the sixteen are the previously released Da Funk and a new piece entitled Fresh which is craftily superimposed onto a sea soundtrack. I also like the infectious funk strewn All Around The World. They inject a certain amount of humour into the songs as displayed on the 10th, which starts with a tinny sound and has the title High Fidelity, or perhaps the very mis-titled Rock 'n Roll (as far away from this as can possibly be). A great debut and this is the only time Homework will be a pleasant experience. (Phil Brook)

 

SQUAREPUSHER. Hard Normal Daddy. WARP CD 50

There are lots of good bassists in the world, but how many really contribute to breaking down the traditional barriers of music? Squarepusher is one Tom Jenkinson, who releases his second album which in many ways is almost a continuation of the highly respected, Feed Me Weird Things. He has taken the Jungalist theme of drum & bass, and expanded the manipulation of the sounds way beyond the normal confined limits of the genre. The album starts with the jazz drenched Coopers World which is closely followed by the excellent Bleep Street, fast light snare drum beats provides the main theme for the other three sumptuous melodies to interact in a positive way. It was from here I realized that I was listening to a major talent. I like the very short Anirog Dg, which is the calm before the cut up jungle staccato track six shatters the peace. On Male Pill Part 13, a lo-fi drum competes with jazz influenced backing to complete a most unusual but still wonderful piece. The tempo changes on the interestingly titled Rat/P's & Q's which is breathtaking. Some drum & bass albums suffer from all the tracks being very similar and hence rather dull after the 115th track, whereas Hard Normal Daddy has rectified this problem by the dozen tracks being so varied. He admires the work of The Aphex Twin and Luke Vibert and so do I. I will have to add the name Squarepusher to my list of highly respected artists. (Phil Brook)

 

BROADCAST. Work And Non Work. WARP CD52

You would expect, more electronic weirdness from the 52nd album released from the Warp stable, but maybe times are a-changing when a normal female singer is allowed to accompany what a first glance appears to be standard music. Of course, the results are much more fascinating with an easy listening quality to the songs that just do not fit neatly into any category. This should not happen. The second track generates a very sad mood especially during the end of second section. The next piece Message from Home is also split into two distinct parts, the latter being short yet highly effective with it's haunting accompaniment. I also adore the Phantom with the cheesy sound of a deranged fairground organ. Living Room seems to be such a simple track whilst the complexities are deceptively hidden. Most of the nine tracks only last between three to four mins which accounts for the fact that all three singles that were previously released on other labels are included. I would like to hear a fuller length piece to see if they can deliver the staying power needed. I think the John Barry style orchestration is making a comeback albeit with electronica that only those people from Warp could get away with. Jimi Tenor with a female vocalist perhaps? I can't explain why I find so much to enjoy here and why it's so appealing. (Phil Brook).

 

ATTICA BLUES. The Debut Album. MoWax. MW080

Some bands, hopefully find a successful formula and stick to it, whereas others diversify to make each album different. Attica Blues have combined these differing traits onto a single debut album that makes them stand above the majority of the rest that produce ordinary music from those mass production factories. How have they achieved this? Simply by mixing instrumental and vocal tracks onto a multitudinous soundtrack that is not heard every day of the week. The sound is so large, yet it is made by the trio of Williams, Nwatchaku, and Essaway who pick the choice selections from the hip hop world and use classical music techniques to create a string section that is exceptionally melodic whilst not pandering to the easy listening brigade. The band describe their music as beat orientated musical landscapes where the voice is used as another instrument and this is precisely what they do in a very effective way. The memorable single 3ree (A Means To Be) is included, which is guaranteed to have you humming the chorus line and this is by no means the best track out of the fifteen in total. I suppose the instrumentals are the easiest to appreciate at first, as the way the voice is utilized may not be to everyone’s liking, yet you should not dismiss this instantly as the warmth of her voice permeates through the electronic score and delivers a refreshing aspect to the songs. The samples used appear to come from all spheres of music including classical , one such instance is woodwind instruments, which I have to admit are not often heard on a hip hop beat. The results of their debut album reveal an amazing choice, not all enticing on first hearing, but anyone with patience will soon warm to the more complex rhythms. Remember the name Attica Blues, as there’s inspired talent lurking within the minds of this extraordinary band. (Phil Brook)

 

SUKIA. Gary Super Macho. MoWax. MW081

A four track cassette, not from a band originating in the far East, but in California. Their name comes from a character in a Colombian comic and Sukia is a lesbian vampire. This four piece remind me of a 90’s version of the B52s crossed with a Frankie Goes To Hollywood chorus and lounge music you may just be receiving a flavour of their own sound. The single is taken from the album Contacto Espacial Con El Tercer Sexo and is certainly different with guitars thrashing against the samples and the results are hugely enjoyable. The remixes are by the Dust brothers , the Dirty Sanchez mix is laid back and I especially like the version by the Japanese Major Force West. If you are looking for something a bit different yet don’t like all the modern ambient-ish themes and prefer guitars with attitude then this could be just what you have been waiting for. (Phil Brook)

 

Various. Essential Drum & Bass. Beechwood. Essecd1

Let's play completely straight and state the obvious that not everyone will like the world of drum and bass. The main features of this genre are the deep bass and the fast snare and cymbal beats. To the casual observer the tracks and the rhythms may all sound very similar. There are a total of twenty exclusive pieces from the UK underground movement on this double CD, which gives a fair representation of the style. The prolific D.Styles has composed and produced six contributions of which five are under different names. He is not the only one to do this as C. Bishop and L. Galloway both have three songs under two different names. Universal Flava's Jazz Creation is a summery sounding jazzy drum & bass, whereas by contrast Scan's Saxophony uses a distant muted sax on a loud drum & bass beat. On the second disc, Scan's Sizeable Respect is one of those essential themes with much more inventive use of the samples. If you could not imagine what reggae drum & bass would sound like, then perhaps Need You by Redneck should be your next request. The final track by Roots once again shows just what can be achieved by using differing aspects and compositions. Not all the tracks are essential, but there are plenty that are. With a little more quality control instead of being good this could have been very good. (Phil Brook)

 

DJ KRUSH. Milight. MoWax. MW077

His past life is frightening - he only turned to music after discovering the severed finger of a comrade on his desk! This former gangster of the Tokyo underworld has thankfully put his talents to a cause that we all can enjoy. Hip hop and trip hop vying for the predominant position although there are all sorts of weird electronic sounds to brighten this otherwise very dark album. It is surprising how many different contrasts are included especially when the Japanese hip hop begins, but who can understand Japanese except themselves? My knowledge of the language is non existent, but there is a morbid fascination with the track. Most of the other vocal tracks are more easily understood as they are in English. He has collaborated with rappers Shawn J Period, Rhino, Tragedy and musician DJ Cam to give a cosmopolitan atmosphere to the twenty eight tracks of his third album for MoWax. Not only does he work with musicians from the underground but is also willing to allow a famous Japanese female singer in this case Eri Ohno to develop his themes to even more of a mystifying conclusion. The above may sound rather negative and it should not be taken in such a light as this is an incredible album that manages to pull off almost every track and delivers compositions that normally I would not entertain. Although rappers are used, you might expect the gangsta scenario to be all pervasive, but DJ Krush avoids this trap so easily and amongst those darker events are uplifting sections that provide a positive contribution. The excellent finale with the help of singer Deborah Anderson has a hallmark similar to what Bjork could have achieved . Not since Moby’s Everything Is Wrong have I heard such a diverse collections of tracks and you had better like this album or else (you know the consequences!)  (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Shake The Bones Hydrogen Dukebox Duke 033CD

A twelve track slab of all things good available from this label from some new as well as existing artists, with a little more flavour added by notable remixers Beaumont Hannant, Monkey Mafia and Andrew Weatherall. New band Soil are very different with electro beats and bass tuned to beguile the listener. If this is a typical sample of their output, then a future album should be a totally electrifying experience. The Big Eye have successfully remodelled Beelzedub into a pseudo reggae/jungle outing of distinction. I also found the track by Pilote Burste scintillating as they have combined succulent themes and bass rhythms that few could play due to the varying beat. TLM are usually guaranteed to fill the speakers with delightful sounds and it should come as no surprise to find their beaten and broken Electrastar does exactly what is promised. The final track by Blue Frog finishes this truly excellent sampler in great style where the reviewer is left wishing for more. Overall the mix is certainly in the modern theme where the changes in instrumental music allows plenty of diversity to shake those bones. (Phil Brook).

 

MAAS. Latitude. Soma CD7

One morning when I was on leave from work, I had some back cataloging to do on the computer and so I put a cd into the player. I suppose it was just for background music as I did not wish to play something too heavy. Normally I would have continued the task, but I soon found myself ignoring the screen and just listening to the impressive instrumental music on offer. Ewan Pearson is the gent who successfully grabbed and held my attention totally. He delivers his own style of the instrumental underground dance with dancefloors full of uplifting beats and sounds. This is jovial music by any standard yet still retaining the freshness needed to prevent repetition and listening boredom. Most of the tracks are very easy to digest and could be described as being lightweight, an example is Upstate, but behind the main theme are lots of interesting interplay between the various rhythms. It was surely a great pleasure to be in the aural company of MAAS for 70 mins. PS The cataloging is still to be done as I Listened to this album instead and I am heartened that I can occasionally make the correct decision. (Phil Brook).

 

VARIOUS. Fused. Polygram TV 553 482-2

After the great success of the first double CD compilation of the new directions in dance (called Wired), there had to be a follow up. This time it is subtitled 35 New Directions in Indie-Dance and it features an impressive who's who of well known artists/bands playing some of their better material. The album starts with a modern mix of an old TV theme, The Saint by Orbital and finishes with the 711 edit of Darkheart by Bomb The Bass. The Hardfloor mix of It's No Good by Depeche Mode does not thankfully, live up to it's title and the Propellerheads mix of 808 State's Lopez is rather tasty. The Charlatans latest album contains a couple of songs where the Chemical Brothers have assisted and they have remodelled Nine Acre Dust for inclusion. Add tracks by Leftfield/Lydon, The Grid, New Order, Robert Miles and yet another remix of Jash Winx's Higher State Of Consciousness (Dex & Janesyls Higher Started Mix). If that was not sufficient to satisfy, the second helping has The Orb, Portishead, Underworld, Orbital, Bjork, Goldie and Alex Reece. The 7" original of Papua New Guinea by The Future Sound Of London is a very worthy addition as is the drum In bass version of So Many Dreams by A Guy Called Gerald (Aquasky Radio Edit), a name to follow closely for the future. With over 150 mins of playing time and the choice of artists, how could anyone criticise the format or music. (Phil Brook).

 

EAT STATIC. Interceptor. Planet Dog. BARK030CD

On a list of acclaimed artists in the field of electronic music the name of Eat Static is bound to appear in the higher order. They have not allowed their brand of UFO inspired music to stand still and are willing to embrace the new themes such as drum ‘n bass and incorporate these intelligently into their highly individualistic scores. This is their third single which lasts for twenty min about the normal playing time and is a delight for hi-fi systems to reproduce the sounds faithfully. The original mix from the excellent album Science Of The Gods (See Separate review) is included, but this single starts with the Radio Edit which is not just a cut down original. Often when remixes are done in house, there is a tendency for less dramatic interpretations to surface, this is not the case in The Decoder Mix as it is even more scary. It still uses a drum ‘n bass beat but very modified from the previous and could almost be a different track. They never disappoint and if you have 20 min of your time to waste, then why not put it to good use by listening to this single. PS The fourth track is a multi media experience. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Kraftwork (Nu Skool elektro). Millennium. MILL051CD

Music is built on fashions and they have a tendency to reoccur every now and again usually in a slightly modified form which either pleases or completely irritates the listeners. The style of elektro has always been somewhat peculiar particularly with the sound of those early drum machines competing with that individualistic jerky sound that so describes the period. This double album of twenty one different artists gives rise to the rekindling of that short lived section of modern music where Gary Numan was the undisputed king , although to be fair this far more modern and the use of cut up beats provides the up to date moniker where much more experimentation is allowed, naturally derived from the technological gains of the last few years. So that’s the history, what's really like and does it stand alone or just fall into a recycle bin. The answer is, providing you are willing to throw away any performed prejudices, this instrumental music is much better than the old sound. Take for instance Between The Lines by Carbon Academy where a quieter more reflective perhaps even subtle if that is possible in this case. (Phil Brook)

 

ROBERT MILES. 23AM. Deconstruction. 74321541132

You know Robert Miles, don’t you? He has sold over 13 million records during the last eighteen months and his best known work to date is the popular chart hit entitled Children. This is the follow up to his debut Dreamland and the first track on here could easily have been allocated to the previous release. It contains ambience’s during a thunderstorm with light sounding vocal passages and is rather aurally gorgeous with very gentle themes. It has been given the title Introducing. The tracks all flow from one to another and the second commences with the sound of baby noises battling against the ebbing and flowing of the seascape on A New Flower. The third, Everyday Life is the longest (10.30) and features the French singer Nancy Danio on the first of two tracks with harmonization to match the amiable soundscapes created before she sings in English on an upbeat tempo. The other is Full Moon which has a cinematic overture with riffs and samples abounding. The other guest vocalist is soul diva Kathy Sledge, who contributes her own distinctive singing style on two other songs, Freedom and Enjoy. I thought the inclusion of real trumpets on Heatwave gives this a majestic pose in contrast to the sax on the following track Maresias which prevents it from becoming classed as too easy listening. The final track Leaving Behind is a quieter reflective piece with a piano passage to round off a very pleasant 60mins. It is important to progress with the release of each album and not just stick to the same successful formula because music would become pretty boring if all it consisted of was Status Quo sound-a-likes. This light hugely enjoyable album perhaps should be played at 2.30 am when the realization of the many varied styles of music becomes more apparent, it still after all a very commercial but worthwhile product. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Naturally Stoned Vol. 1. Millennium. MILL053CD

In these days of the quickly changing aspects of music, a new term is coined to describe the latest fashions. Dope beat may not totally impart the kind of sounds included on this 23 track double album, but it signifies the perfect soundtrack for stoned evenings where slow motion trip hop meets lazy jazzy grooves. The opener is surely a stunner in anyone’s musical library, it’s a ten min epic entitled triangle by Sounds For The Ground and contained within are some of the most haunting collection of melodies that I have heard for quite a long time. Can the rest of this album live up to the superb entrance? It certainly tries and with the help of the following two sections by Sternklang, where a heavy snare sets the scene for the infectious riffs and fascinating rhythms to make their mark before the jazz influences become apparent. The fourth track Rotate In Haarlem by The Kaleidoscope is musically lovable due to the very jazzy bass and ethereal strings. Injuryman’s Bineric Blues contains a loud kick drum beat that rattles the chest but to prevent feeling uncomfortable, the cheesy organ provides light relief. The sixth by Visit Venus commences with dreamy psychedelia before the jazz tinged experience takes over in comparison to the 7th by Small World which has a remarkable middle section of dub like landscape. Even Reggae jazz is included with bottom shattering bass on Cactoid by Kactus. The Starseeds provide an ultimate late night track Timequakes and Alex McGowan of the Starseeds rounds off the first disc very neatly with Beach under the name Universal Feedback. The second disc is no less interesting than the first and includes a number of highlights such as Future 3 and Mr. Electric Triangle. The only remix here is Vinyl Blair’s alternative version of the Full Moon Scientists track Monday Morning Dread which again blends into the general mood of this double. You don’t need to be naturally stoned to enjoy this 135 min trip where the choice of material shows a wide variation. This is indeed excellent stuff. (Phil Brook)

 

DJ WILD CHILD. Jungle Talk. Millennium. MILL055CD

Introduced on the cover as 17 tracks of hardsteppin’ drum & bass, this also features MC Skibadee. She, yes She is one of the few female drum ‘n bass artists to popularise the scene. The music as you may have already noted contains lots of hard slammin riffs and is not for the feint-hearted. It is true to say that few of the artists are known to me, but Macko, Dom & Rob, and Blue I have heard before. This compilation is a live mix created by using ‘good old fashioned vinyl’. The music is extreme yet not unlistenable but the distraction of Skibadee does become a problem. Perhaps the lo-fi MC was not on top form when the mix was done because his contribution does become repetitive after a while. The music is in fact very good, it just takes a little time to adjust to the beats. The listener has to wait until the 13th track which is by Mr. Freeze until there is a change in the vocals. This is most welcome. I have listened to this album three times and now find the style of deliver of the MC has become too much and I just wish he would shut up for a while. It’s a shame as this could have been a good album. (Phil Brook)

 

DE-SENSER. Om. Ultimate/ UKPROMO13CD

Senser are not known for pleasant melodies for afternoon ladies tea parties, neither are they acknowledged as being purveyors of the latest drum ‘n bass scene. So you can imagine my surprise that this package turned out to be music from the latter category. Om (Edit) contains a hard drum ‘n bass beat on a commercial sounding multi-layered melody with female harmonization and infectious riffs. If it is possible to make this style popular with a wider audience, then this is the best example that I have listened to, that has any prospect of achieving the desired results. Om (12”) uses the same beat and melodies yet appears to have even deeper bass notes to create an hypnotic effect which pleased this reviewer. The final track Om (Harry Hogg) is a different remix where the drum ‘n bass is modified by the use of common cut up beats, whilst still being full of sampled riffs that manages to break away from the repetitive sound . At just short of nineteen mins, this single represents a radical change of direction that is most welcome. (Phil Brook)

 

RED SNAPPER. Making Bones. Warp. WARPCD56

Despite what the press releases says about this being their second album (it’s actually the third) and is their best. In an electronic world , it’s is somewhat remarkable that a trio consisting of drummer, double bassist and guitarist with occasional help, can compete with the mighty computerized machines and produce an album of distinction. On the third track Image Of You vocalist Alison David from ex-Life’s Addiction waxes yet another aspect to this album and the fifth piece combines the trumpet playing of Byron Wallen with an acoustic drum ‘n bass feel. It is like a trip through all what’s best in modern music and predicting what’s going to be fashionable in the future. Don’t bother looking for copy cats just go for the original and let this really excellent album remind your brain what it should be listening to. (Phil Brook).

 

FUTURE LOOP FOUNDATION. Conditions For The Living. Planet Dog. BARKCD036

Although you may be forgiven for thinking that this is a collective, it is all the work of drum ‘n bass producer Mark Barrott, who apart from releasing a couple of singles, has done little on the commercially available front since his debut album from two years. During that span, he has gone out and toured which means that he has been able to develop his style to a more personal level and is now more confident at delivering a more experimental approach to these rugged instrumentals. For instance on Omerta, a gentle start with subdued female vocals slowly gives way to a church bell and delightful melodies. Surely this is not drum ‘n bass and certainly not as we know it. The sixth track, Praha combines a haunting piano loop with a deep funky bass and typical percussion for this style and I adore the results. He manages to pull off a very cool sounding piece on Exit Rush, where scratching blends with a plodding beat that then allows an n impressive lead guitar riff to build into a memorable section of this album. To some these contemporary riffs may seem harsh and without any light, yet the subtlety is there awaiting to be discovered. This is an album of contrasts within the drum ‘n bass world and for me it’s at the very least a step forward or more precisely a giant leap. (Phil Brook)

 

CHILDREN OF DUB. Digital Mantras. Magick Eye. MEYCD23

Being a part time reviewer, it’s is so easy to only listen to new material. Yet it was only a fortnight ago that I musically revisited their first album on Diversity records. Making the instant comparison of just how much more mature this their fourth album is. Musical diversity appears to be the norm, because this is where drum ‘n bass meets jazz on a dub rollercoaster and the results are spectacular. Ever since their last EP that contained the outstanding Track New Morning, I did not believe this would be bettered. I was almost right apart from the final excursion Spook that is truly amazing. The album features a couple of guest vocalist (Saiorse Keogh and Lou Palmer), but the album is on the whole a major instrumental package with the bands own style of production. These digital mantras are for adults who wish to buck the diet of being forced fed with superficially slick music that executive thinks you should be listening to. They have not made an album below par and this is certainly the best. (Phil Brook)

 

SQUAREPUSHER. Music Is Rotted One Note. Warp. WARPCD57

We all live in a changing world and ignoring those who wish to alter the boundaries could be construed as burying our heads in the sand. For those who wish to peer over the horizon, and investigate the latest developments in the drum ‘n bass arena, then this album takes a step sideways from all the followers of precise musical programming. In this case, all the instruments are played live and sequencers have been cast side in what must be a major gamble. Anything Tom Jenkinson does, he does it with the idea of challenging the very ideas that he invented recently on his last album and never allows the opposition a chance to catch up with him. The fifteen tracks all have live feel, a little like Red Snapper on their most mind boggling experience. This album is a challenge not only to himself but also the listener and does not fit into any music category. All the same it is a necessary part of any worthwhile collection. (Phil Brook)

 

JIMI TENOR. Year Of The Apocalypse. Warp. WAP116CD

A three track single which offers two different versions of the title. If you have not heard Tenor before, then his music is very unusual almost defying description at times as he lunges from one extreme to another and combining previously unused styles to make a mixture that is commended. This commercialised single may just have the right notes to catch the ear of the Top Of The Pops producer, as it lends itself to silliness, but in a grown up way. On this single, the title gives the exact opposite impression of the happy, bounding along song with catchy lyrics. It should not work, but somehow this guy has the tenacity to carry it off and more upsettingly for most other artists, he can get away with it. Great music, Great single. (Look out for his new album) (Phil Brook).

 

TANGERINE DREAM. The Dream Mixes. TDI Music. TDI001CD

The huge body of work continues to grow I am very pleased to say and this double CD of remixes fits very nicely in the general scheme of things.The basic tracks featured here can be found in their original state on "Tyranny Of Beauty", "Rockoon" and "Turn The Tides" but are far enough removed to engage the seasoned Tangerine Dream fan afresh and to turn a few more onto their particular brand of synth-driven rock. The two discs can be viewed slightly differently in that the second is entitled "The Club Dream Mixes" and is definitely more at home in that particular pigeon-hole. That I can listen and enjoy is more a testament to the quality of music and innovation than to my hipness, I can assure you. Particular "faves" are "Little Blonde In The Park" and "Iowa". The stronger collection to these ears at any rate is the first disc however, and there are some classic moments in "Jungle Journey" and "Change Of The Gods" in particular. There has been somewhat of a resurgence in Tangerine Dream of late and on the basis of this collection it is easy to see why. (Gordon Maxwell)

 

MALKA SPIGEL. My Pet Fish. Swim. WM10

With two albums already under here belt as a solo artists, she released this last album last year and it has taken MD a while to keep up to events. She is from Israel and married to the former Wire man Colin Newman. So with lots of ability and a very wide musical knowledge, we find Malka diving into all types of musical ponds. The opening track is One that grows on the listener due mainly to the good solid beat and unusual sounds that gives an ethnic feel. Her vocal style is not standardized, yet is ideally suited to the rhythms. The 11 songs on the album all display differing moods and assistance on I Said You Said is given by electronic pioneer Scanner who surrounds the vocals, which are delivered in a manner that is slightly reminiscent of Grace Jones with ambiences. This is good in fact very good. After the guitar influenced Like Machines and the Indian styled The Fishes & The Shining Sea, we hear her singing on Fly but only just as the vocals are way down in the mix. Man and wife have triumphed over the music machines and produced an album of great distinction. Is it not time that you dipped you musical toe into the water and sampled the delights of My Pet Fish. (Phil Brook)

 

SQUAREPUSHER. Presents Maximum Priest EP. Warp. WAP122CD

A seven track EP from the imaginative mind of Tom Jenkinson. Although he is mainly a drum 'n bass exponent, here  he is in a much more playful mood with this weird phase of electronica. The first track combines underwater sounding themes with organ music from a funeral parlour on a slow drumbeat and the outcome remarkably delivers a form of pseudo happiness. On You're Going Down; a live drum sound is complemented with a jazzy tinge. The next track is very short and not long enough to be a soundbite. The Autechre remix of Two Bass Hit is yet another stunning piece of sound deconstruction from the duo. Wagon Christ finishes off the EP with Shin Triad, where a heavy drum pattern and distorted noises are all thrown together to make a fitting finale. Squarepusher continues to sweep away the barriers with such ease, it's almost frightening. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Definitive Underground Drum 'N' Bass. Ration-L. RALVP001CD

I am always somewhat skeptical when the title of an album includes best ever or definitive as the opposite can often apply. So I was in a slightly negative frame of mind when I pressed the play button. Then the music started and I immediately thought that this was not just good but very good and what was even more surprising was the next track continued in a similar fashion. I was left waiting for the fillers. Perhaps they fill the second CD? No they don't. There are 30 essential mixes from the X-ERT Sound System to savour and these are of a very diverse nature. It does not get much better than the opener Thoughtagraph by Tracye, where dreamy vocals provide the elixir of music. The appropriately named Hiding In Tall Grass contribute a few track to the album, non better than the super cooled reggae influenced Applied Plant Higher. Also interesting are the fascinating rhythmical patterns by Resistance Quad. I said early that the music does not get much better than the first track, well that's true apart from the amazing slow paced vocals surrounded by atmospherics which develops into a fast percussion beat only to return to it's original pace. It's the most unusual example of this style and the highlight of the CD. Again it's by Tracye and called Ice Serpent. This album will probably get overlooked as there are no big names featured, but the drum 'n bass is of a quality seldom heard. If you wish to have a representative underground album of this style of music then this is the definitive collection. Miss it at your peril. (Phil Brook)

 

EAT STATIC. Epsylon EP. Planet Dog. Bark Dog 009 CDS.

If an album only lasts for 36 and a half minutes, you would naturally be rather disappointed - but as this is only an ep(!), then value for money is guaranteed. This is the third offering from Planet Dog to reach Modern Dance and its inclusion is certainly justified. With just 4 tracks to enjoy and enjoy them you will, the instrumentals are much more than spaced-out, chilled-out noises. The ep starts with the title track, which is a fine introduction into modern computer based musical languages. This is followed by Dioysinc, which should prove an inability to sit stone-faced listening to it without either humming or perhaps tapping the foot. A new angle on jungle which should set the techno DJ's scurrying to rediscover their trade! Brilliant. Peeow, I suppose, is the least impressive, but Undulattice (Uforic Remix) provides a fitting climax to an excellent ep. They're not in the Future Sound Of London class yet, but I predict they will be soon will be. (Phil Brook)

 

EDGAR FROESE. Beyond The Storm. Virgin.  AMBT 5.

As you may well remember (or maybe not), Froese was the main man behind Tangerine Dream, from the earliest right through to the here and now. It's always been arguable, but I've always reckoned that TD did their best through their tenure at Virgin. I know they didn't do too bad commercially, but I think they turned out some of their best product: Phaedra and Rubycon to name but two. During Froese's time with TD, and with Virgin, he was also busy on his own stuff! Aqua heralded his debut as a solo artist. To be honest, at that time (and even now) there really isn't much on any of TD's albums, of Froese's to make them one or the other. In other words, Tangerine Dream was Froese, as his solo album sounded just like TD.  This collection, then, gathers quite a lot of material and does a fair bit of credit to Froese's solo stuff, as he was terribly overlooked when he was releasing them. There's also cartloads of 'new' stuff as well - okay then, unreleased. Upland, a classic track, has extra material blended into it, so even the older and released material has the odd surprise here and there. For the cynics among you, at least over half of the material is unreleased. The sleevenotes, whilst being incredibly small, are very authoritative and well worth reading, especially if you're an old TD or Froese fan. For a dose of old(ish) trendsetting electronic music, it ain't half worth plugging into. (Dave W)

 

VARIOUS 110 Below  Volume 2. Trip To The Chip Shop. BELOW 2CD.

The 2nd instalment from New Electronica Below series featuring tracks with a beat lower than 110 per minute, and from the title, you may have gathered that the trip is to hip hop. I am not a great fan of this style of music, but I soon found myself foot tapping to those infectious beats, especially Birth by Howie B with the almost sickly string arrangement. The album is worth buying just for this one, yet there are lots of other goodies in store such as U.N.K.L.E's Dewback which could easily have been a Portishead remix. The majority of the ten supplied are instrumentals apart from Ultramagnetic MC's rap We Are The Horsemen, and they may not have the instant appeal liked by some - so be patient and allow the rewards to be received. The 2nd release, the 2nd success, I want more. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Rebirth Of The Cool Phive.  4th & Broadway. 617 525 778-2.

16 tracks, all good ones at that by the likes of Bomb The Bass, Portishead, tricky, Paul Weller and even the Beastie Boys, moulded or remixed to give a brilliant CD of the 'Subterranean Abstract Blues'. There's something mildly disturbing lurking in the mix, especially in Prodigy's version of Method Man's Release Yo'Dell, as the lyrics do really bight back in this blues/rap song. Paul Weller's Kosmos has been tweaked, not a slight adjustment, but completely revamped, would you still recognise it as his work? Another section of great interest is the Portishead experience mix of Marmocoma, by Massive Attack, which is almost as good as the original (I think it's impossible to make improvements). The diversity of sounds displayed here from hip hop, jazz, rap, all tinged with a blues feel should allow you to wallow up to your armpits with non-stereotyped music. I am not a great fan of the traditional style of the blues, but this has got to be a candidate for the ultimate abstract blues album of the year. (Phil Brook)

 

FLUKE. OTO. Circa CRICD 31.

Fluke have progressed since their Six Wheels On My Wagon album. They are still basically dance orientated but have developed into a more radical format. Let me say before we progress, that on OTO is not as easy to enjoy as previous offerings. For a start the guest vocalists have received electronic treatment to their voices, which may, on first hearing, appear repetitive. The 8 tracks include just one instrumental which I suppose is definitely OK (the titles OK) with a tremendous, pulsating bass line. The music is far better than the vocals which thankfully as some tracks are relatively sparse. Freak is another classy piece that builds into a mighty crescendo which is another reason why you should allow time for OTO to become more friendly, but beware of the bad language on Cut. Progressive dance. (Phil Brook)

 

AS ONE.  Celestial Soul. New Electonica. ELEC26CD.

Yet another title to fill the so-called Dance category in those so-called record shops. Don't be afraid as As One have the ability to write decent music that can be enjoyed without expanding too much effort. The pace changes with the songs, the digital sound alters with the eleven tracks and the construction exchanges moods for moody. This is easy listening yet at the same time interesting as Kirk Degiorgio has successfully explored the complex relationship between music and mind. I like Ikiru because of the simplistic way the instrumental music is put together, but behind this apparent simplicity is a deceptively textured mix. The following track, Interstellar, is even better and the next piece Dhyana is, etc. When is the duff track going to appear? Never is my reply. Late nights should pass very quickly if you acquaint yourself with Celestial Soul - open your soul, so you can be as one! (Phil Brook)

 

ELEKTROIDS.  Elektroworld Warp

Devo meets Kraftwerk! The front cover depicts four faceless humans, so does that mean Electroids are a quartet? Q: Are we not men? A: We are Devo was the anthem of the 70s and their sound has been electronically enhanced to fit into the 90's Electroworld. The lyrics, if needed, are almost limited to the song titles, so not a lot of poetry to endure yet the music more than compensates. Tracks like Japanese Electronics maybe off beat, certainly not off key and I soon realised the music would improve with repeated use. Incidentally the album appears to have been mixed in mono. Please indulge 60 minutes of your time within the unbelievable electroworld. Robotic rock indeed! (Phil Brook)

 

 

CHILDREN OF THE BONG.  Sirius Sounds. Planet Dog. Bark CD12.

Impress yourself. Buy this record and totally immerse the conscious in the sounds of the clouds so you can travel to the brightest star as depicted by Planet Dog Records. The Children Of The Bong must be their secret weapon in the quest for musical achievement. Rob Henry and Davis Groganian have written and performed eight songs enclosed therein with such bravado, they even  had to borrow equipment from Banco De Gaia - rich electronic pieces abound to form sleazy, dreamy, creamy compositions of delightful and elaborate beauty. It would be unfair to single out any tracks as being the best. The Tangerine Dream expert, said this was quite nice - which in the real world is tremendous praise. If he liked it - you should. (Phil Brook)

 

ASHRA.  Sunrain. The Virgin Years. Virgin CDOVD 463.

Ashra's music was rather typical of the early pioneering spirit of Virgin. Bands like Tangerine Dream, Schulze, Henry Cow , Frith and Oldfield bring out fond memories of yore. Sadly, many of the 'older' albums are slipping away. Bearing the brunt of the new media empire (if it don't sell, get rid!) there's now only two of the four Ashra albums available, and one of these, Blackouts, is only available in a three cd compact collection box set. Happily, the other album, New Age Of Earth, is a pretty decent one. This new Choice Cuts album features 13 tracks with a healthy choice of the four albums: Blackouts; Correlations; New Age Of Earth and Belle Alliance. As the title suggests, the material is from the Virgin years, but why did they get rid of the albums in the first place only to re-release them? Maybe it might sell better like this? (Dave W)

 

RAMSHACKLE. Depthology. Big Life. BLRCD 30.

There is a futuristic area, hidden to some extent by the success of Portishead, where little operates and even less comes to the attention. In this apparent ramshackle dub-blues sphere, the essential debut suddenly explodes to stir the excitement levels to fever pitch. I am, of course, referring to Depthology. Ben Chapman, Steve Roberts and Johnson Somerset have successfully put together a dozen tracks to fill an impressive album assisted by bassist Jah Wobble on Isn't This The Life and Stevie Winwood on Pulse. Ramshackle posses the ability to compose catchy tunes and have a vocalist (Steve) who's voice is just right for these type of songs. Even so, the music is surprisingly varied. It's one of those albums that you will want to replay sooner rather than later. (Phil Brook)

 

AZUKZ.  Everything Is Everything. Mantra MNTCD 1.

I was impressed by the single, Lift - Future Mix, now let's see if Azukz can achieve to fill an album of music to a similar high standard. The answer is, unfortunately, not quite. But they have had a damn good try! Their name was apparently chosen from the five letters the band thought would best describe the songs of experiences and emotions. It was all born in the Whirl-Y-Gig Club. Seven tracks, including the single, is presented in a typical 90s instrumental dance music, although experimentation is included with a rendition of a dance reel! I will award 8 out of 10 for this fine debut as Azukz have displayed excellent potential for their next album. (Phil Brook)

 

PETER BAUMANN.  Phase By Phase - A Retrospective '76 - '81. Virgin

I can't be arsed to check whether all the tracks on this album consist of material from the three Virgin albums that Baumann had. I say 'had' because I can't find any of them in the catalogue! So, this new release on the Choice Cuts series contains all that's left from the Virgin years. There's fourteen tracks on the album, all taken from the following 'deleted (?)' albums: Transharmonic Nights, Romance '76 and Repeat Repeat. As you might (or might not) know, Baumann was (in my humble opinion) an ex-Tangerine Dream member from one of their most creative period. Edgar Froese, Chris Franke and Pete Baumann - what a line up!  (Dave W)

THE ENID. Sundialer. Mantella Records. MNTLCD 12.

Latest release for The Enid, although, strictly speaking, the material on it, with the exception of the title track, isn't new. There are five tracks in all, with Chaldean Crossing (remix), Dark Hydrolic (remix), Ultra Violet Cat and Salome 95 (remix). The sole purpose of this release is to act as a kind of 'sampler' as to what The Enid are up to. Apparently their 'old' fans find some of their newer stuff not as appealing, although to be fair, The Enid's music has evolved and encompassed new technology and production techniques and hasn't really 'changed' to the point of being a different band. Chaldean Crossing is one of my fave tracks, and this remix does offer yet another facet to a beautiful tune, Salome 95 is similarly treated. The title track, and the 'new' piece, Sundialler, is a pretty smart piece of music and deserves pride of place as the opener. To put it simply, this is a good way to check the Enid out. (Dave W)

 

EXPERIMENTAL AUDIO RESEARCH.  Beyond The Pale. Planet Dog BARKCD 002.

The name should give a large hint as to the type of music? on offer. The sleevenotes provide even more info to confirm the original thoughts as the instrumental includes feedback, drones, echoes, bowed cymbals and treated guitar. The four piece have spent over three years recording this album and have rejected modern digital equipment and instead combined analogue gear with familiar sounds to compose a 48 min 6-track outing that is certainly way out beyond anything Eno ever did. The music is very slow moving with little identity, rhythm or melody, perhaps it's the soundtrack to a most desolate sci-fi film. Jollity has been beheaded, angelic, uplifting sounds decapitated and memorable tunes guillotined all in the name of EAR. If you are feeling a little low, don't listen to this cd as you may end up slashing your throat. Experimentation to the extreme. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS.  Wired Injections. Cleopatra Records. Promo CD.

The material on this stunning sampler is gathered under the combined heading of Industrial, Gothic, Electric Wave Compilation. I guess Cleopatra must be a new label, and if this is the case then they've already got themselves some very interesting acts. Two of the acts you should have heard of already: Die Krupps and Psychic TV. Other bands include The Electric Hellfire Club, Birmingham 6, Switchblade Symphony, The Wake, Christian Death and Klute. Each of the 16 tracks is by a different band, kicking off with the Hellfire Club's Incubus, which isn't dissimilar to Die Krupps's Isolation. The majority of the initial material is very much like Industrial Techno, and it don't half blow those cobwebs out. I'm not sure if any of you can get hold of this album - if you can't then all I suggest is that you keep your eyes peeled for the Cleopatra label, 'cos there is some very neat stuff on it. (Dave W)

 

FINITRIBE. Sleazy Listening. Infectious. INFECT43CD

If a track from a particular album is played on the prestidious Radio 3 programme entitled Mixing It, then by the nature of the parameters set, the music is gauranteed to be at the very least thought provoking. Having heard just one piece, my inquisitive mind was set wondering how Finitribe had managed to evade my attention prior to that Monday evening. Imagine a combination of Massive Attack versus Fluke with a David Holmes feel and you’ll realise that this album is indeed something special. There is a lot of variety within the sometimes dark soundscapes and these are not all instrumentals. Take the ususual even folky aspect of the female singing style of Mind My Make-Up complete with the sound of a bull fiddle or the appropiate vocal melodrama on Waltzer and the haunting violin. The Bells naturally uses the Glockenspiel, an instrument that does not readily capture the inspiration of genre breaking music. The final Theme contains guitar loops and haunting melodies with a drum ‘n bass beat to make a fitting theme. This surely must be a contender for the best album of the year category.  For myself I am grateful to Mixing It, for introducing Finitribe to a wider audience. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Darkzone. Millennium. MILL060CD

A 15 track episode of the darker side of the drum ‘n bass craze, which has been mixed by Dred Bass, who is really Jason Ball the founder of the Midlands based Back 2 Basics Recordings. Unless you are a keen appreciater of the cutting edge of this style of music, the vast majority of the tracks or even the artists will not be known to our readers. That small fact should not dissuade you from considering the importance of musical events such as these. Sonartribe are the only duo that I have heard a lot of their output as I have recently reviewed their debut album Signal (also on Millennium) and that is well worth a listen. From the astounding opener Dub Moods by Aphrodite with the unusual bass notes to the progressive finale by Guardians Of Dalliance (Reflex), the other thirteen excerpts are all full of cutting edge vibes. Profound Noize make a lot of er noise with Cal-Form and Introspective use rather light sounding beats to offset the deliberate heavier notes used by Psion. The best is Telementry by Skynet because it uses quiet melodic  overtones and is very different in approach until the main beat starts. The instrumental music is not designed to be easy to listen to, yet there are many melodic interludes that create an overall balance to make this a ‘want to play at midnight’ album. (Phil Brook)

 

Boards Of  Canada. Music Has The Right To Children. Warp. WARPCD55

Their debut album containing seventeen tracks is a joint release with Skam Records. Who are they or him or even her? I have absolutely no idea but I do know that they inhabit a bunker in Scotland. The Pentland Hills may have had a soothing influence of the instrumental music as it at times could be described as very easy listening, but that would not be in Warp’s interest to promote such a criminal act on the true pursuers of experimental music. There are many aspects that startle, the quite dreamy evocative melodies are beautifully honed to perfection, whilst retaining  a subtle harder edge. I thought my CD player was not playing correctly on one of the tracks, as the pitch changing could not be described as subtle. It was rather unsettling listening to Smokes Quality.  Apparently, embedded messages are to be found in their recording, yet I only found an album of beauty that has successfully combined easy listening with attitude. Amazing. (Phil Brook)

 

BRUCE GILBERT. In Esse. Mute CDSTUMM171.

A very uncomfortable and unnerving slab of music here, folks. When I say that, I don't mean the music is poor, indeed, if you could call it music! Gilbert is no stranger to producing soundscapes of alien proportions, images thrown out across from the speakers, ignited with imagination produce frightening images, this album is a veritable, old fashioned bad trip. It has three tracks: Soli, Bassi, and Muzi - and all of them are electronic incantations the likes of which are not for the faint hearted. Imagine capturing the sparks as they cross the synaptic gaps of Salvador Dali, David Lynch, and Charles Manson, somehow synthesising that image on a mile wide drive in movie screen - the soundtrack would be In Esse. Don't listen to this with the lights off, and NEVER on your own! (Dave W).

 

TANGERINE DREAM. The Blue Years. Castle CCS CD 824.

Ten track budget release from Rennasiance, which is the mid to low price release label from Castle. This album follows on from January's Pink Years (which I missed!), and highlights the band between the years 1984 to 1988, as to why it's really called the blue years, I have no idea. The liner notes are written by Froese, and it has to be said, are rather interesting. The album itself has ten tracks, some more familier as they featured on other compilations, such as Scuba Scuba, Ride On The Ray, Hyde Park, and Zen Garden. One of the better TD compilations as it captures them during a certain period. Worth checking out methinks. (Dave W).

 

AUTECHRE. LP5. Warp. WARPCD66

In the disjointed musical world of Sean Booth and Rob Brown, the idea of de-constructing sounds into fractals and then reassembling them into unfimiliar chord notations have taken a leap forward in acheiving an album that is truely different. This is as close to the cutting edge of music that has been listened to and it is not an easy ride. It won’t find favour on popular radio stations, as the instrumental electronics are far beyond the more extreme passages dreamed up by Aphex Twin. This may sound horrendous, but is in fact very inspirational and the harsh sections are mellowed to a small extent by the sickly sweet harmonious rhythms mixed into the background. The titles match the pieces by being weird, such as the opening track Acroyear2. So this is certainly destined for the more serous listener and those willing to open theirs ears and mind, will find a wealth of fascinating material. Weird but wonderful as well and this has to be their best yet. Their other four albums all come with a highly commended award. (Phil Brook)

 

SOURCE DIRECT. Exorcise The Demons. Science. CDQEDE3

The Science label is part of the Virgin group, which features some of the interesting producers in the drum 'n bass area of music with Photek being the best known. On this release, this St Albans based duo of Jim Baker and Phil Aslet show what can be achieved without resorting too often to the over used cliches of this particular style of modern music. It is a long CD lasting nearly 80 min. and it displays to very good effect the way that modern music is expanding into a crossover area that is very difficult to define. At times this album is what I could call standard fodder yet at others, it gently meanders into pastures new without the listener realising it. During the last five years, this pair have released an amazing total of thirty singles and they first came to my attention by appearing on the Wipeout soundtrack to the Playstation game (not that I actually indulge in such frivolous activities - honest!). One of the many pluses is the fifth track  (Love & Hate) which deftly refused to be placed in the usual classification. The album is not a full-on experience rather a much cooler version, in fact some may not realise that drum 'n bass could be so melodic. The outcome is of a very competent level that continues to push the rather initial limited boundaries of drum 'n bass. (Phil Brook)

 

FREDDY FRESH. The Last True Family Man. Eye Q Records. EYEUKCD017

    This guy really knows how to mix and match unusual samples both old and new into a modern soundscape of varied patterns. He brilliantly manages to place hip-hop next to ambient and lush orchestra pieces that would appear to emanate from the forties and apply a veneer that does not imply any use of musical Formica. Who would have the audacity to include the musical help of the Freestylers, Grandmaster Flash and Fatboy Slim to provide even more diversity apart from Fresh himself?  My personal favourite is the sixteenth track entitled Skylights, where a subdued harp is surrounded by a rich orchestral score firmly placed on a very modern beat. And what's even more unbelievable is the catchy tune. I have already mentioned the variety between the 22 tracks on offer and I have to restate that it is truly amazing. This album is what freestyling is all about and the results are remarkably Fresh (Pun intended). (Phil Brook)

 

STEREOLAB. Aluminium Tunes (Switched On Volume 3). Duophonic UHF.D-UHF-CD/D20

My first experience with this quirky band was via the excitingly titled Transient random - Noise Bursts With Announcements album released a few years ago. The basic premise of their style is for a similar easy listening pop music in which female voices harmonise with the very lightweight tunes on offer. To differentiate between this and the music to shop by,  Stereolab deploy slightly unsettling effects within the music. It is not really discordant material, but mildly rouses the brain to take notice. The arrangements certainly seem to be firmly stuck in the early seventies or perhaps even earlier and as such the overall impression is for something that is weirdly different yet retaining a familiar old appeal. The contents of this double CD features rare and deleted material, in fact there are twenty five tracks to choose your favourite from and so this is a must for collectors. With just about two hours of steely tunes on this double album, do you have the metal to accept them. This trick has been imaginatively conceived and is a winner. (Phil Brook)

 

JIMI TENOR. Organisim. Warp. WARPCD60

Having mainly dispensed with the cheesy organ sound of this last long player, this Finnish guy now dabbles with easy listening melodies and his own very peculiar production techniques to obtain a sound that can only be described as Jimi Tenor. There is more of a preponderance of vocals on the album, but don't be fooled into thinking that this is normal. Imagine the brass section of the orchestral score to the TV programme Ironside, coupled with easy beats and a bouncy style of production and the vocal component happily singing about the Year Of Apocalypse. Tenor certainly has a sense of wry humour and this is apparent on a lot of the ten tracks. Another happy go lucky track is the opener suitably entitled Total Devastation! He can make those electro beats funk with the rest and use his distorted vocals in a pseudo style that is all of his own making. He is distinctive, in fact very distinctive and mixing supermarket melodies with modern electronics does not sound particularly exciting - until you hear the album and then it becomes obvious that here is a man who has just produced his second album of distinction. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. Source Rocks. Virgin. CDVIR80

The source of these tracks is to be found in the new music originating from France. The modern music scene across the channel has already given us Daft Punk and Motorbass, so to assemble thirteen recording artists who are unknown to me may not raise the hopes. Don't let that minor detail put you off because there's a lot going for this album. The best of a very good bunch is Cosmo Vitelli's Transformation Mistress, which is a very infectious and mind seductive escapade. The following track by Riff Hifi almost has the individual humming along with it. In direct contrast P. Jack's Retro Futurism, Bobby starts with a tune that would not be out of place on the TV programme Playaway before it develops into a much more mature piece. I particularly like the fusion of electronics and traditional rock instruments on Bertrand Burgalat's KLM. There is quite an abundance of gentle moody instrumentals whilst thankfully avoiding any hint of blandness, and some are very full bodied. Trying not to become embroiled with this very good album is exceptionally difficult as this beguiling set sucks the mind. I like Source Rocks, in fact I like this a lot. (Phil Brook)

 

DISSECTING TABLE. Life. Release 81676 64012.

This is what you'd call Japanese noise. Ichiro Tsuji is the main man behind this wall of sheer metal and electronics. There's very little to describe that would prepare you for the audio onslaught that's waiting inside the coating, all it takes is that laser, and hell... It seems ironic that the album's called Life, as the main feel, thrust and mood of this album is purely alien. As the press release states, low-end bass malevolence with unbelievable pounding and 50 mile high walls of sheer sound. There's no logic, no plot, just an out and out attack on your ears. This isn't unpleasant, it isn't meant to sound like it's just a random gathering of noisy minutes - I have actually heard a lot worse. There's no chilling out with this baby. Yes, it's life, but not as we know it. (Dave W).

 

THIEVERY CORPORATION. Sounds From The Thievery Hi Fi. 4AD CAD 8006 CD.

Hailing from Washing DC, Thievery Corporation are in fact a duo: Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, who manage to combine dub with the odd bit of Latin! Sounds odd, but let me assure you that fans of dub will find this a welcome addition. The lads are perhaps better known in some circles for their remixing talents - David Byrne and even Black Uhuru to name but two of the artists they've 'done'. 14 tracks in all, with many of them sounding fresh and inventive, especially So Vast As The Sky, The Foundation, Vivid and .38.45 (A Thievery Number), which was taken off as a single a while ago, and The Glass Bead Game. It has to be said that they do steer down a road that's very much their own. Whilst it is dub, it's not out and out dub, but uses all the foundations. The building's the same, just the furniture's different. A welcome change. (Dave W).

 

LORDS OF CHAOS. Signs Of Light. Chaotic 601.

Not quite as heavy as Dissecting Table (what is?), Lords Of Chaos deliver up the goods via some very menacing and threatening beats. Signs Of Light, the opener and album title, shows very little mercy as it dives headlong into a beat with more punch and anger than Tyson. The odd samples break the fixation and tracks like Bunty, Hakelvis, Spinal Grip and Slasher Tempo awake... something! Nik Leman is the main man behind this project, and was seen to be touring with Prodigy throughout their European tour, so he's picked up a few things on what its all about. Nine tracks in all - every one a cracker. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Atmospheric Drum & Bass Vol 5. Millennium. MILL078CD

Those judging an album by the first track may arrive at the wrong conclusion when listening to the fifth album in this series. Vocal drum & bass is ok, but by comparison with the rest of this double album, the opener could only be described as average. The other tracks range from good to exceptionally good and the second track by Justice restores your faith in music. The last track on side one by Vext is one that will change your perspective on this type of music and no wonder they called it Perspective. If your preference is for spacey drum 'n bass, then Space Echo by KMC will do very nicely, or perhaps haunting deep bass lines are your passion then you will not be disappointed with Psion's Rising Tides. There are a number of exclusive mixes on this CD including Cold Air by Surge which also features Sally Strawberry. Is this a tired formula you may be wondering? The straightforward reply is simply no. (Phil Brook)

 

NIGHTMARES ON WAX. Carboot Soul. WARP. WARPCD61

What a stunner! The opening track consists of majestic orchestration and is a reworking of Quincy Jones's Summer In The City. But does the rest of the album live up to the exceptionally high standard set by the starting track? The answer is a positive yes. The next track changes tack which is much more beat driven yet the fancy instrumentation is not over the top. As the tracks unfold and the style changes, the vocalist Sarah Witon bears her soul on Finer and shows her voice fits neatly between the trip hop beat of Survival. Ease Jimi is collaboration with Jimi Tenor and uses sax riffs on a super cool beat to achieve the max effect. Continuing the chilled theme on the seventh track, the jazz tinged imagery is assisted by a very laid back beat which provides an overall restful feel. The rest of the artists from the Warp stable will have to be inspirational to better this album. I have just listened to another musical landmark from Warp. (Phil Brook)

 

THE SHAMEN. Drop. Castle. ESMCD753

Their first album, now digitally remastered, gives an opportunity to look back over their career. This is a far cry from the club friendly hits of Phorever People and LSI and is much more suited to the category of psychedelic indie rock. With a number of tracks making a very positive nod towards Syd Barratt. The 18 tracks (including four bonus ones) adorn the album and few of them sound really dated although some of the bonus tracks are not quite up to the same standard as the rest. So how has it stood the test of time since it was originally released in June 87? The answer is pretty well. (Phil Brook)

 

QUIRK. Quality Control. Matsuri.MPCD26

It's not Psychedelic trance, nor techno or any predefined style. Neither is it experimentation designed to see just how much the listener will tolerate. It is about stretching the listener's perceptions, raising the stakes and Quality Control, which Quirk do quite magnificently. This ten track CD is a follow up to their collectable Machina Ekectrica and Formax Chemical and my first impressions are strong. The opening piece is a montage of voice soundbites that seems out of character with the rest of the album and certainly not what I expected. The next track Sleazy Listening is a chirpy seductive vocal event that could almost be classed as a single. By the time the fifth track is playing, a decision has been reached on the quality of this album and it is a high one. The sheer diversity is exemplified by the use of a classical guitar on the El Molino de Viento and the album concludes with Salvation, an eerie downbeat orchestral ridden event. Quirk have exerted loads of effort in the quality control department and their hard work has reaped dividends. (Phil Brook)

 

CHEMICAL BROTHERS. Surrender. Virgin. XDUSTCD4

Will they still retain their crown of kings of the big beats with the release of the new album? As past leaders of the style and after taking a year off, suggestions that they may have lost the plot and surrendered the title to others..... What a load of rubbish! Their sabbatical has achieved amazing results with the consequence that this album is a stunner. The opener commences with old style Kraftwork influenced rhythms before mutating into a fine post-modern sound. In fact none of the eleven tracks are wedged in a particular period and even the vocal tracks contain lots of developments. They have a knack of using old tired out, cliche-ridden samples and introducing them into their songs in a novel way that prevents the musical equivalent of boredom setting in. If I didn't know better, I would say they are playing with our senses in their subtle, comic and wry delivery production. My current favourite track is Got Glint?, with it's contagious melodies although this is likely to change, as returning to this album is not a chore but a necessity. With big tunes, mean beats and lots of bravado, the Chemical Brothers reign supreme once again. Beware of copycats. (Phil Brook)

 

FAULTLINE. Closer Colder. Leaf. BAYCD12

This is not dance music as we know it. The imagination of David Kosten is remarkable, for it is he  who has conceived an album of electronic music that does not fit into any one category just an amalgam of categories. Awake, the opening track is a most disjointed affair with little notion of musical expression until the wonderful tuneful notes of the cello reverberate around the speakers before the harmonica influences the electronic harmonics. This is unique and certainly beguiling, as cold and dispassionate as you could get; yet retaining warmth and beauty. An enigma really. The next piece Tiny Consumer is a collection of varying genres from drum 'n bass to electronica and classical violin to disturbed sound effects. It may sound awful on paper, but on disc its very good. After the superb Mute with its free form jazz, piano and solo lead guitar, the music delves into the overtly classical Control and title track. The finale is ingenious with the intriguing use of the female speaking clock.. Oh I almost forget to mention Papercut in which quiet piano interludes are broken with 20 sec of electronic mayhem. Ground breaking material from an artist who is bound for stardom. Not to be missed! (Phil Brook)

 

PLONE. Plone. Warp. WARPCD64

How do the boys at Warp do it? They continue to release material from an electronic store where by rights the batteries should be time expired. Yet against this background, the discovery of acts such as Plone only reinforce the observation that it is still possible to invent different musical avenues to explore. Plone have their own musical trademark that ebbs throughout the ten tracks from the happy opener to the funereal conclusion. It starts with the exceptionally good On My Bus, where haunting melodies vie with catchy riffs. The second track includes melodies that would not be out of place in early kid's sci-fi programmes; in fact it could accompany the voice of the Mysterons! By the time the halfway point is reached, the instrumental music is reminiscent of any TV detective series. When Summer Plays Out, is peppered with chanting sleight bells to provide and emotional finish to a superb album. The music ranges from instantly catchy numbers to the more difficult to access, it's mainly melodic electronica with the blandness removed. If this is for beginners, then the adults are in for a real treat. (Phil Brook)

 

MALKA SPIGEL & COLIN NEWMAN. Live Swim. CUSWM1

There is no point rushing down to your local record store and asking for this album because it's only available by mail order from Swim Records and each disk is individually numbered. This ten track album commences with Water Walker (revisited), which not only confirms the musical quality is very high but the production and sound is without fault. Featured are modified versions of a number of pieces from their individual and collective songbooks including Tethnic 99 with its ethnic feel in a manner similar to Transglobal Underground. I am glad Newman has included I'm Spaced (In) with it's heavy guitar licks vibrating with those ever so catchy riffs. The infectious bass notes of Long One provide a firm foundation for the vocal harmonisation. There is something rather quirky about Spigel's Humans as it's a rather straightforward song containing that vital spark. Most of the songs improve with exposure and even after the second play; the riffs will be flowing through your mind at various time of the day. Strumgliding (Ultimate Version) has almost a drum and bass feel at times and successfully mixes happy guitar based tunes with a heavy bass. The overriding consideration to be made is that the influences present on this beautifully crafted album are very varied and as such I have no alternative but to heartily recommend this album. If all Live albums lived up to this standard then we would indeed be in a musical heaven. (Phil Brook). Details (inc s.a.e.) from Swim, PO Box 3459, London SW19 6ES. Why not visit their web site at http://www.kleber.net/swim/

 

AIR. Premier Symptomes. Virgin. CDV2895

This French duo had succeeded in bypassing my attention until my 18 year old niece was playing their debut album when I called in to visit. Their laid back/dreamy musical interludes are neither bland nor uninspiring. On this mini album are 7 pre Moon Safari moments that were produced in Nicolas Godin's Paris apartment before they had a studio. The technical quality is remarkably good and the instrumental music is even better. The opening tack Modular Mix is a typical example of their excellent work, where gentle uplifting melodies caress the audio senses. The following Casanova 70 is every bit as smooth as the title suggests, the lounge music of the late nineties. Les Professionels features a classical style piano towards the end of the piece and the following track a Rhodes type piano on a drum beat. Le Soleil Est Pres De Mio uses subtle vocoder type lyrics, although only the title words are included on this track to act as a counterpoint to the strong bass lines. The final track seems to be out of place as it has a much heavier appearance. Their follow up will be released in the millennium and until then this album full of previously very difficult to find Air tracks will fill the gap very nicely. I can't wait for the millennium. (Phil Brook)

SILO. Instar. Swim. WM19

The trio of Soren Dahlgaard, Fredrick Ammitzbell and Mikkel Bender make a full impact in a vein similar to Red Snapper and the Boom Boom Satellites, where the traditional instruments of rock predominate on a bed of electronica. Flake commences with a hard drumbeat that's followed by electronics and guitar all neatly held together with the growling bass lines. Asset combines quite heavy rock with a vocal component. On Beat 41, which is strongly influenced by Colin Newman's work, the combination of lyrics and instrumentation give a rather melancholy feel even though the electronic passages attempt to liven up the recess. The big drum sound pervades Cowboy with more electronic effects and a wonderful slow paced guitar plucking sound. The album concludes with the moody Deckwork, with minimal singing and instrumentation apart from the drum beat. Many of the tracks have a similar feel, which may be a little too much for some. This eleven-song album is mainly instrumental apart from three tracks, where the distinctive almost spoken singing slots neatly into the vacant gaps. The emphasis is mainly on drums, bass and guitar and this should appeal to all that are fed up with the electronic bleep market. (Phil Brook)

 

EARDRUM. Last Light. Leaf. BAY7CD

This duo has a different view on what music should be all about. Fed up with ambient, tired with dance and unhappy with rock, they invent a sort of up-tempo electronica that defies description. It is a little similar to grunge ambient with a bit of industrial thrown in for good measure. As you have now concluded, these ten songs (without lyrics as singing along with them would prove to be rather difficult) all have a distinctive sound. Don't think that this is just noise, because it just takes a little more time to perceive the intricacies of it all. The second track Lizard is very percussive against an ambient mythology. On Swamp Doctor there are no mellow passages, just a non-basic rhythm that provides a backdrop for minimal samples and effects that could be used to a video nightmare. After Nightblind, where the flute is used to good effect, the most identifiable beat and rhythms are formed to allow an almost free form addition of sax to litter the soundstage. Lou Ciccotelli and Richard Olatunde Baker have given this live album a distinct feel. It is sometimes very difficult to give the correct impression of the particular sound, but with little to provide a comparison, you will just have to imagine an album that is of an experimental nature, but with an open mind, the musical beauty becomes apparent. (Phil Brook)

 

SQUAREPUSHER. Selection Sixteen. Warp. WARPCD72.

You would naturally assume that there are sixteen tracks on this album, but in this warped world there are actually seventeen and that figure includes the four unlisted bonus tracks. The final track Ceephax is a remix by Andy Jenkinson (a relation perhaps?) and displays another good side of musical imagination. This mini album is the work on Tom Jenkinson who is an ace bass player, electronic pioneer and a drum 'n bass exponent who has moved on from those days and produced a much more up beat feel without losing any of the cutting edge that normally accompanies his work. He is noted for his harsh interpretations, yet the mellow side of his musical nature shows through on tracks such as on the fantastic Dedicated Loop. The album opens in a typical (for him) non standard way i.e. a very sombre 2 min The Eye, which confirms that Squarepusher is not going to just rehash previous works. On Tomorrow World, apart from the drum pattern the instrumental is not recognisable as his work but somehow he manages to put it all together in a coherent way. This mini album is much more musically gifted than some of his other works and as such benefits enormously. He will struggle to improve on this. (Phil Brook)

 

TWO LONE SWORDSMEN. A Virus With Shoes. Warp. WAP126.

An EP, in fact a seven track EP from that duo of Andrew Weatherall and Keith Tenniswood who continues the themes laid down on their previous album Stay Down. Don't expect standard beats, rhythms and production. These guys are masters at melodic experimentation, be it up-tempo or just down in the dumps as aurally described on It Hurts. The opening track Brother Foster Through The Phones is a concise yet involved piece designed to grab the attention. This cocktail of music from various decades must be heard. The pace is slowed on the following track Confessions Of A Justified Sinner, where deep bass notes vie for position with subtle melodies before Kist, which is almost commercial enough for the clubs. By the time the fifth track in reached, a trip hop beat competes unsuccessfully with an amazing deep bass. This is not what was expected yet it's a great inspirational track entitled Cloned Christ On A Hover Donkey (Be Thankful). On the next interlude, Celcus Speaks The Truth, we find them attempting to make sense at least musically speaking of strange noises. It all concludes with a dark brooding section that re emphasises the fact that this is still leading the charge from the front. Wonderful stuff. This particular virus is one that you want to catch! (Phil Brook)

 

THE SHAMEN. Drop. Castle. ESMCD753

Their first album, now digitally remastered, gives an opportunity to look back over their career. This is a far cry from the club friendly hits of Phorever People and LSI and is much more suited to the category of psychedelic indie rock, with a number of tracks making a very positive nod towards Syd Barratt. The 18 tracks (including four bonus ones) adorn the album and few of them sound really dated although some of the bonus tracks are not quite up to the same standard as the rest. So how has it stood the test of time since it was originally released in June 87? The answer is pretty well. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. WARP10+1 Influences. Warp. WARPCD67.

In a bold move, but Warp records have always taken bold decisions, their main duo behind this label put together a double album of tracks that made a great impact on them in the early days. So expect lots of early electro music from artists that are not very well known. The first disc comprises of eleven tracks, with over half of them taken from the pioneering Trax label. The highlights are Morning After (Sunrise Mix) by Fallout and Computer Madness by Steve Poindexter. I should also mention the disc ends with the hugely influential 12-min version of Acid Tracks by Phuture that set the scene for greater experimentation away from the electro beats. On the second disc, the music is more modern with better known artists contributing to the set. These include 808 State's Let Yourself Go 303 Mix) and A Guy Called Gerald's Voodoo Ray. In all it's a good reminder of those pioneering days when electronica was in it's infancy and it was certainly influential. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. 10 + 2 Classics 89-92. WARP. WARPCD68

Of all the records labels specialising in the electronic medium, Warp was one of the founders and most important. Their output still is at the cutting edge of music and after a ten-year stint releasing warped music, the opportunity has been taken to fill a double CD with classics taken from their vaults. So tracks included are from the first nine singles plus a few others to provide a welcome look back to see how genre breaking these was. This nostalgic trip is marvellous for the purveyors of electronic music as it includes the rare first ever release by Warp, The Track With No Name by the Forgemasters, others include selections by LFO, Nightmares On Wax and Sweet Exorcist. In fact the still classy Dextrous by Nightmares On Wax is featured along with the wonderful Testone by Sweet Exorcist. I could waffle on at length regarding the importance of these releases but will confine myself to mentioning one of the highlight on the second disc, the final track Loop, which is a collaboration between LFO and Fuse .For lovers of musical history this is a must. (Phil Brook)

PAN SONIC. A. Blast First.

This is the new album from Pan Sonic, now bereft of the 'a' that had the band known as Panasonic. Hence the title of the album! Actually, when I first heard their name I actually wondered how long it would, especially with Panasonic being quite a big company. If you've not heard the band before, then I'm in for a hard time. If you have, skip the next bit... Synth based, offering up soundscapes with the odd echo of the industrial, laced with, at times, intensely clever and imaginative imagery. What throws you are many of their titles: Voima, Telakoe, Johto 1, Joskus, Maa, Pala, Aleneva, and Lomittain. There's also several Untitled pieces as well. Crazy titles aside, this new album is a work of art, especially in the chilling out zone, where they get full marks. Okay, so there's none of the heavy dance beats that some of you may well imagine overlaid on some of the tracks. Sorry, this is workmanlike, pure and simple, honest electronic mindmeld. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Liquid Dub Volume Seven. Dragonfly/LSD. BFLCD36

Here's seven hefty doses of chilled out music that are all welded together by a dub style beat. Just because this is the quieter end of the dance spectrum, don't allow your mind to think that experimentation isn't here, as this particular album undertakes a journey across the continents. In doing so, many styles and instruments such as a didgeridoo, dulcimer, classical guitar and sitar all add their own distinctive sound to the proceedings. The opening track is sheer musical magic as it contains an amazing collection of instruments all welded together by a heavy bass. I had never heard of the Industrial Suicide Tribe before, but with superb pieces like Aqua Susa they will be remembered for a long time. This is then followed by heavenly voices on the second track Freedom, which introduces an even deeper dubby bass by SO36. Improvements although difficult to conceive do actually happen as depicted on the next piece Spends by Moments Of Dub, where rolling bass notes and melodic electronica combine to make a very spacious sound. I could waffle on about each track and mention the great interlude by Celtic Cross that fulfils another aspect of the down tempo scene. In fact all the tracks are quite different, with each portraying a very varied soundscape. The only track that does not appear to be down tempo is the very unusual Gaia by Blue Lotus, which is quite abrasive when compared to the rest of the package. Obviously Volume Seven was produced to satisfy my musical preferences and if I were a first class musician then I doubt that I could do any better. One question though, what happened to the other 6? (Phil Brook).

 

OSYMYSO. Welcome To The Palindrome. Sprawl. SP031

Take the sampled speech of both female and male presenters of the TV programme entitled Countdown and place them on various scores within beats and throw in the occasional well known orchestral clip and that is just the opening track, Onosymysal No? It gets no better on the following piece, where a multitude of Welcomes from TV programmes are fitted into another web of collages. This guy will nick any well known piece and bastardise it for his own good as though he was just pissing about in the studio. To release this nonsense is brave, yet wait a minute this technique is applied with astonishing brilliance it has to work. By the fourth track, I am of course hooked on these and wonder the hell is to come next. It's barking dogs with the amusing chorus line my dog is better than your dog! Continuing with fairground style music on the seventh and Hawaiian music on another, he has got a cheek applying cut up beats, melodies and rhythms, in fact anything and everything. The game is to identify where the samples come from and it will provide hours of frustration. The press release says that this is a bucket full of fun and it is a very large bucket from a 25 year old Mark Nicholson. Impressed, you should be with the most ballsed up album of the year and what's more its absolutely brilliant. (Phil Brook)

 

 

GALAHAD ELECTRIC COMPANY. De-Constructing Ghosts. Avalon GECD 1

ATTENTION! This is not Galahad as we know and love them, there's no prog rock, only an assault on your bass cones. The blame seems to lie with Neal Pepper who edited and mastered this disk, although Stuart Nicholson was project co-ordinator. This idea of taking a prog rock album and turning it into a club thing has been done before lately by Marillion, but I didn't think this sort of thing would appeal to Galahad, but it did so that's that. So taking off my rock hat and not having a clubbing hat to replace it with, all I can say is this album will attract a completely different audience who will appreciate it for what it is, quite a good album. It should be good as the songs come from a cracking rock album Constructing Ghosts. (Kelvin Gillespie)

 

TIM BOWNESS & SAMUEL SMILES. World Of Bright Futures. Hidden Art Hi-Art 3.

Tim Bowness, the singer behind No Man has got together with Samuel Smiles. Now Samuel isn't actually who you think he is! He's actually three people: Mike Bearpark, Peter Chilvers and Myke Clifford. Also appearing on here is the Irish singer Sandra O'Neil, Colin Edwin, and Steven Wilson (from Porcupine Tree) as well as Tony Harn (both his albums having been reviewed in MD). This concoction makes for an interesting brew. Obviously elements of No Man spring to mind, if only because of Bowness's cracking voice. However, when many of the songs are co-written by the above, there's some very creative music in the offing. They also cover one of Pete Hammill's songs (Ophelia), and a stunning cover of King Crimson's Two Hands. To be fair there just isn't room in the mag to describe how well this album works (and there's also an extra bonus cd of them doing their stuff live!). If you have enjoyed the work of Harn, or Bowness, or No Man, or indeed you enjoy good, moody and atmospheric, down to earth honest music then 'tis here staring you in 't face. Pretty neat stuff, but then again I didn't expect anything less. (Dave W).

 

GARY MOORE. A Different Beat. Castle. RAW CD 142.

As the title boldly states, this is certainly a different 'beat' to what Moore fans will be used to. I personally think it's great album and shows not only how Moore adapts to meet new styles, but how he incorporates those styles and constructs them around his own style. In fact it's a bit like Bowie did with the album Earthling. It might sound crazy, but there's drum and bass all over this album, and it kicks ass with some outstanding solo guitar (as you'd expect). In actuality, this 'new' sound offers up some superb foundations on the backline for Moore to let rip and create some intensely effective guitar work. The album kicks off with Go On Home, and from thereonin you know what to expect. I can well imagine many hardcore Moore fans having an initial hard time with the album, but if they persist, they'll find it as rewarding as anything he's done. Like I say, all credit should be given to Moore for trying these new structures. He even gives Hendrix's Fire a new skin, and it still burns ever brightly. In some incomprehensible way, all the songs work, and no matter what the end result is, Moore is one of the current best blues guitarists there is - he doesn't just rely on speed (of which he is capable of), but he's got a depth and a planet full of soul - the nearest thing we've got to the Peter Green of old. Surprisingly brilliant. (Dave W).

 

ANTENNA. Installation. Mushroom. MUSH53CD

This four piece band from down under have a down tempo outlook to their rock. The opening track is the most bizarre rendition to a hymn that you have ever heard. Image making a mockery of Amazing Grace by the addition of scratching and you have only a part of what's been done to it. You'll never hear this version if any house of God! This band is really a side project for musicians of differing background. So take Kim Salmom, Dave Faulkner, dance demons Stuart McCarthy and Justin Few to produce an album of varied beats and differing vocal skills. On Is It Really Mine, a wah-wah guitar complements a reggae type beat. On Liza's Tonic, the dub is rather depressing with its very lo-energy beats. This is no dance album apart from the final track 10 - 4 and I will agree with the press release that this is an experimental collection of heady beats, breezy pop and wicked dub. (Phil Brook).

 

VANGELIS. Reprise. Eastwest 3984298282.

This guy's been going some years, and yet every now and then he brings out a gem. This collection sees him from 1990 to 1999, and contains some of these gems. Conquest Of Paradise, theme from Bitter Moon, and Rachel's Song (from Bladerunner) are worth the price alone. There's actually 17 tracks in all, with some cracking stuff, y'know, this stuff really makes those neck hairs stand up. I know some of the titles give your imagination little to go on (Movements 4, 5 & 6, Psalmus Ode, and Opening), however, the music is so vivid, stupendous production, and just generally electric, that you don't really need titles. Vangelis's style and personality can often be detected on many of the tracks, he does have a certain 'sound' despite banks and banks of synthesisers and samplers. In fact, I'm really pleased that Vangelis has got such a pedigree behind him, as it makes my job of reviewing this new collection so much easier: brilliant stuff. (Dave W).

 

STEVE JOLLIFFE. Invitation. Siren. SRNA401CD

An artist whose name may not be on the tip of your tongue, yet he has been busy in the sidelines of the music business for the last 20 odd years. That is not to say his work is of a lesser statue, but more of a reflection of the music business only concentrating on a few selected artists. He is probably best remembered for his contribution to Tangerine Dream This particular invitation is offered to you to sample some of the highlights from his music and I suppose most will consider it to be a best of. I personally hate the best of title as often some of the better material escapes these collections mainly because it is deemed to be not friendly to a radio audience who has the attention span of a soundbite from soap! The only track to feature lyrics is Captains Of Fate. As the rest a generally slow or slowi-sh moving instrumentals. If you have not caught up with his music then what the hell have you been doing! (Phil Brook)

 

SALARYMAN. Karoshi. City Slang. 08715-2/1

Preconceived ideas can be a bad thing. You think back to their competent debut album and expect similar. Their daytime job is the indie rock band The Poster Children and at night weird things start to happen. Out goes the guitar ridden sounds to be replaced by keyboards, electric drums, therimen, viola and a TV set(!) Since their previous album, released two and a half years ago, they have progressed well beyond expectation. In fact the development has been nothing short of extra ordinary. They resemble the Red Snapper drum sound surrounded by fascinating electronics that compliment the heavy rhythms. The immediacy of the opener Strong Holder is superseded by the brilliance of The Companion. The complex drum patterns and intricate riffs on Thomas Jefferson Airplane need to be heard. Its not all that standardised as the drums take up a reggae feel that accompanies growling rhythms and haunting melodies. These are not spoilt by the weird noises on an excellent track that does not live down to the title of Dull Normal. This is an album that places catchy keyboard sequences on a rock beat and spices the sound up with electronica to make a CD of quality. (Phil Brook)

 

YAZOO. Only Yazoo. Mute CDMUTEL6.

Vince Clarke was the man who had it all going for him in Depeche Mode, the band were just kind of breaking through when he upped and left. Taking on board a young female singer (relatively unknown) called Alison Moyet, and forming the band, Yazoo. Obviously, this was before Erasure and Alison Moyet's solo career. With Clarke's trademark sound held in check by Moyet's stunningly bluesy vocals, they carved a niche that was rather unique. Many would argue that Erasure was Yazoo with male vocals, but that's another story! This album is what's known as a best of and contains many of their truly classic songs, as well as one or two lesser known ones. Only You kicks off the album, and if anything, it was this single that paved the way for their sound, there's also the 1999 remix that closes the album as well. Fifteen tracks in all, with Don't Go, Situation (both, again, remixed at the end of the album), Winter Kills, Anyone, State Farm and Ode To Boy. Good set of songs, and a timely reminder who, what and where both the above came from. (Dave W).

 

ENIGMA. The Screen Behind The Mirror. Virgin. DGVIR100

The quest continues. After the previous Enigma trilogy, Michael Cretu devotes his energies towards improving his own distinctive style of world music for the masses. My first impressions reveal a more accomplished and therefore satisfying three quarters of an hour, where the widely differing influences are woven into the eleven coherent tracks. The production is less muddied than his last album (Le Roi Est Mort, Vive Le Roi), yet don't expect crystal clear sounds because that is not his way. He has the ability to make music accessible on various levels ranging from background to the intensely personal. Big production is certainly on offer on such tracks as Gravity Of Love, which you may remember, featured the voice of Ruth Ann  (the singer from Olive). It is interesting to compare the album by using different volume levels, the higher the volume the more audio information presents itself. I decided to try out my Xmas present (top of the range Sennheiser headphones) with this album and it sounds both beautiful and majestic at the same time. The incorporation of well-known orchestral choral works on tracks such as Modern Crusaders only serve to highlight the adaptability of his skills. The album is designed to be heard as a whole as one track naturally flows to another. I particularly like Traces (Light And Weight) because of the way the watery sounds are blended with deep beats that contribute towards a haunted feel. It's going to sell millions worldwide, but that should not detract from this man's gift to produce music that everyone should enjoy. How many other artists can do that? Very few I would suggest. (Phil Brook).

 

WILLIAM ORBIT. Pieces In A Modern Style. WEA. 3984289572

When Dr. Robert Moog introduced his electronic gizmo of knobs and connecting leads to the public, the synthesizer was just of passing interest. Although it spawned a couple of albums, namely Switched On Bach and the Well Tempered Synthesizer, in which the machine played the well known classics, few realised the importance of the device. Many years later William Orbit uses the latest musical technology to reinterpret eleven classical pieces and whilst it has been done many times before, it has not had the same finesse. Most of you will have heard Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings and this opening track sets the style for the rest of the album. Although John Cage's In A Landscape is short in length, it does make great use of some rather fine moments, as does Ogive Number 1 by Satie. The well-known Cavalleria Rusticana receives the mellow treatment and other composers such as Handel, Ravel and Vivaldi are included in this beautifully sounding 60 min. The variations on the Triple Concerto by Beethoven may be too radical for some especially where slightly off key sounding samples are used and yet I find this to be the most interesting on this marvellous album. Gorecki's Piece In The Old Style 1 is probably the most lush and majestic even though there is not a traditional instrument in sight! The purists of classical music will probably cringe that someone has dared to do this, but they will readily accept another classical composer doing what is effectively a remix! If anything, the mood is slightly melancholy throughout, yet the beauty of these pieces should ensure that these classics will not be forgotten for a long time, and this aurally illustrates the talents of William Orbit so well. (Phil Brook)

 

PANTUNES MUSIC. In Search Of The Surface Noise. Sprawl Imprint.SP-025-PAN7

Take a duo consisting of Douglas Benford, who also records under the monicker of Si{cut}.db and I Garrelfs and ask them to craft eleven instrumentals into a form that will inspire the average electronic listener and totally impress the fanatic. The results are contained within these tracks. Consider pitch bending, you remember that old technique that was often used to excess with the normality of destroying any half decent instrumental, yet on the opening track it is used with devastating effect on the lower octaves. It is not until the second piece is playing, the sudden realisation comes across that this is effectively a drum 'n bass set. And on Palma Violent the minimal samples accompanies the mainly percussive nature in which the percussion is used to substitute other instruments. A remarkable state of affairs. The finale Raft, displays the softer end of the genre with very haunting melodies all wrapped up on a non-soggy beat. Cutting edge is where it is at, but without compromising the listener's ability to keep up. Too many albums are released where the indulgence of the artist is paramount, whereas the fine line here has not been crossed. I think that I ought to go in search of more surface noise! (Phil Brook)

 

MIRA CALIX. Oneonone. Warp. WARPCD73

My knowledge about this artist could be written on the edge of a second class postage stamp, although that small detail should not dissuade you from investigating these 16 tracks of strange electronica. Minimal ambiences set the scene for the opening track Ms. Meteo (Poolside Mix),in which swirling wind sounds are compacted into a coherent, (well almost coherent musical) collage. It's all change on the following piece Skin With Me, where a relatively quick beat provides the background for non-daytime radio passages of unusual noises. It is experimental, but not at the cost of listenability. On Nostalgia, the sounds are almost childish as though they were designed to entertain a young baby in direct comparison to the next instrumental entitled Sparrow, which caters for the very musically educated. The contrasting styles ebb and flow throughout the album. On Isabella, the jangled sounds gives way to a menacing beat onto which melodic phrases are incorporated with great verve. Upiyano features a very subdued vocal component with a hint of Aphex Twin (a compliment for sure) and is probably the most tuneful aspect of this album. It takes at least a couple of listens to see beyond the electronic soundscape and I could liken it to one of those 3D pictures hidden in a multicoloured pattern. Startling if you take the time. (Phil Brook)

 

STEVE JOLIFFE. Omni & Deep Down Far. Horizon Music HM1003-2 & HM100

Following on from last issue's twenty questions, and a review of Steve Jolliffe's excellent compilation (Invitation), here's another two albums from his impressive catalogue. I was actually quite lucky because whilst Steve's styles are, well, Steve Jolliffe, I managed to pick two of his synthsiser albums (which I'm rather partial to!). Omni is a three track album that kicks off with Enter. This piece morphs through some amazing moods and colours as it progresses through eighteen and a quarter minutes. Ethereal chords drift in and out of a subtle bubbling effect and we're teased every now and then with a fast pulsing beat that seems to shift in and out of focus. After around five and a half minutes, the synthesised beat comes back, then drifts out again. At seven minutes into the track you could be excused for thinking it's a completely different track. Like Zanzi, and like an electronic liquid, it reshapes and transforms itself throughout. A cracking opening piece. Drift is the second track, and the shortest on the album (over sixteen minutes!). As you could well imagine from the titles, you do drift along on some imaginative and relaxing thermals. This track is very much like Tangerine Dream's Hyperborea period: an ever changing and constantly moving pattern. It's in a lighter mood than Enter, and utilises a lot more synthesiser blips and beats. Elements of Jean Michelle Jarre are here too - a lot more percussive in places. Immerse, the longest at just over 21 minutes, is a like a combination of the previous two. drifting passages of notes with a strong underlay of synth driven note-beats. It builds on these, subtley changing and altering the timbre, or changing the sound, and keeping the same beat. At just over half way through we get a chance to hear Jolliffe on the keyboard playing some gorgeous notes with a slight oriental lilt, and then we're back into the driving synth, and an overlay of sparse yet effective keyboard. There are times in this particular track when I'm reminded of Schulze and his penchant for percussion, only Joliffe is more imaginative with the actual sounds of the percussion. Rather than just have a drum, as such, he flanges and oscillates the sounds in and out of the overall piece. This album is as good as Zanzi, and one I fully recommend.

     Deep Down Far has six tracks, and kicks off with Exodiri. The forboding notes that start this tracks are straight from a John Carpenter score. Lighter chords drift through, lightening it somewhat before (like Omni's opening track) a synth begins a clicking and oscillating, setting up a beat. This beat, though, drifts in and out of the piece three times. Inbetween this there's some superb colours and atmospheres created as they all interplay between each other. There's a mystifying deep resonant booming around two and half minutes into the piece which adds an incredible tension to the peice. Verus, the second track, is begun with a gentle, beautiful passge of piano with some etheral string background. It eventually builds into a complex rythmic pattern utilising the piano to its fullest. It also shows just how good a keyboard player Joliffe is. The third track is more gentle and reflective. Strings gently drift, soothing and relaxing. At just under half way through a kind of African drum pattern begins, although it isn't on drums, as such. The synthesiser is used to extremly good effect, invigorating the track with a stunning new direction. Gnosis, again, uses string effects incredibly well, setting up a beautiful mood of tranquillity. The oddly timed cricket effect adds yet another dimension, and sets up a superb interface between the beat and the strings. I don't know why, but this track reminded me of travelling along one of those American highways out in somewhere like Area 51! Seola, the fifth track, begins with a set of strings that shouts with echoes of Mahler (the addagio from his fifth), incredibly sombre and oustandingly sad. This is the shortest track, at just over five minutes, and keeps this mood up all throughout the piece - incredibly touching. The final track (at over 24 minutes) hasn't actually got a name, but I think it's the symbol for infinity. Anyways, this track, because it's longer, is allowed to expand and explore further. It starts off with the same notes as Verus, but goes into another, totally different direction. The piano is courted by strings and a vocalised choir subtley in the background - it's a bit like setting the scene before the actors come in. Terminator styled synth injects a totally new set of guidelines and off we go... That is until we get around four and a half minutes and then it stops, and begins with the piano again, chatting on its own with some very beautiful passages. Off we go again, this time it's a bit like Mike Oldfield mixed with TD's Tangram. This track has so many directions it would take another issue to get you through the first half. A very busy, beautiful and extra special piece. Check out the website - WWW.siren-music.demon.co.uk.

    There's major problem now - which is the best? Well, Zanzi was good, and Omni had a bit of an edge, but the last track on deep Down Far makes this the album. If you can, though, I would suggest all three. If you still can't make up your mind, then how's about trying out Steve's compilation! (Dave W)

 

VARIOUS. Definitive Underground Drum 'N Bass Volume 2. Rational. RALVP002CD

Quite a while ago, you may even remember it, I wrote a review for this mag extolling the praise of volume one and now the question can be asked if the follow up can achieve similar standards. I suppose it was a silly question to pose, as I ought to have had more faith in Mike Bennett who has put together 30 remixed tracks for this impressive double CD. Imagine, if you can drum 'n bass being given a dubby edge and the best track to display this is the excellent X-Ert remixed opener Solar Weightlessness. The fourth track Ghetto Mentality has a Zion Train feel to it and as such is not the norm for this type. The last piece on the first disc by the Aries Project is called New Foundation and the Fledgling's Incision Mix is particularly inventive with rather a good beat and infectious hook lines all floating around aqua noises. On the second disc, I am not usually over impressed by a large vocal component on my Drum 'n bass, but there is always an exception and this is certainly one. My favourite on this side is DJ Tyrone Mix of the Domino Effect by Domino Effect, which although is quite short in nature, illustrates how far this style can move from the centre ground. It's superb of course with the merest hint of dub. It's all been produce by Mike Bennett apart from one track by Roni Size and William Orbit. Just in case you need a recap of this album that explores the cutting edge, then it continues the trend set on Volume One. If you liked that, you'll adore this. (Phil Brook)

 

AIR. The Virgin Suicides. Virgin .VISA4914

After their rather brilliant debut entitled Moon Safari, the duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean Benoit Dunckel turn their attention to the soundtrack of a film. The opening track Playground Love sung by Gordon Tracks provides a definite change in emphasis and is a sad song. As you may possible imagine, most of the thirteen tracks are short in nature with the Ghost Song lasting only about two min. Little opportunity is allowed for developments, but you have to remember that this music is designed to accompany a film and long soundbites are a rarity. On Cemetery Party, the electronic theme compliments the electric guitar and female choral type chorus to form a distinctly moodier section in comparison to the lush orchestrations accompanying the slow ballad of Highschool Lover. The tracks although never challenging always keep an air of simplicity that usually belies the more complex rhythms as is well illustrated by the inventive and haunting Empty House. The finale is one of the two longer pieces clocking in at six min. and it includes a narration. Those listeners expecting a repeat of the dance inspired beats will have to re-evaluate or wait until Air emerge from the studio with the next album. (Phil Brook)

 

VARIOUS. The Chillout Mix. Virgin. VTDCDX283

This new release is a double album of 36 blissfully chilled out tunes containing lots of friendly well known songs, all designed to delightfully appease the masses. On the first disc the range varies from the Orb's Fluffy White Clouds to Burt Bacharach's The Look of Love sung by Dusty Springfield. There is new stuff as well such as Everything But The Girl, Groove Armada and Gomez. I still think that All I Need by Air is the most blissed out tune ever and the highlight of the first selection. On the second disc, oldies but goodies include tracks by Age Of Love, Leftfield and the Future Sound Of London's Papua New Guinea, add a bit of drum 'n bass and jungle with the help of Goldie's Inner City Life and Roni Size's Brown Paper Bag and the mix is almost complete. To conclude a good album, the trio of tracks impresses starting with 808 States Pacific 202 then Robert Miles 's Children is followed by Underworld's excellent 10 min. finale Dark & Long. So don't expect any cutting edge music, just lots of easier listening! (Phil Brook)

 

BRAHMA. Joyrides EP. Raw Fish Records. RFR123

This limited edition 12" has been in my household for quite a while, so apologies to the company for that, but my vinyl player has been out of commission. We all recognize that fact that good fascinating music does not have a limited shelf life as do other fashions. Categorization is difficult as on the opener as thoughts turn to ambient before the beat enters the hip-hop area and the lyrics hold the attention. The following track sees poetry vying with electronica. On the other side, the spoken lyrics fit onto an electronic atmospheric score with a form of drumbeat. The EP challenges, but not in the usual manner, it's just mixing the differing types of music onto the same song. It's pleasant and very good at the same time, which is quite an achievement. If you miss this EP then look out for the album Plink. That is sure to be a good investment. (Phil Brook).

 

Si-{cut}.db. Rate Of Living. Sprawl Imprint. SP030

This is the latest album from Douglas Benford, which is much easier to say than his stage name. If it increases awareness, then all to the good as this is another masterpiece from the label that promises to offer so much to the listeners wishing to explore the electronic instrumental area. The opening track ....Hide! contains lots of muted telephone rings all conspicuously arrange to make it seem that your home phone is ringing and the score is a truly inspiring one. If inspiration on arrangements is being investigated then the following piece Fear Of Your Pals features Black Dog type melodies on a percussive beat that certainly brings the mind into focus with the thought that it should last longer. Never mind the fact that the next track, Stop London Sinking, starts like a sort of fairground organ before metamorphosing into another semi -melodic section where the beat seems oddly in direct competition to the rest of the instrumentation. I have already decided that this is more than just a masterpiece, it's a collage of samples and riffs strung together in a complex way that entertains whilst stimulating the mind. On Spectral Software, the melody is so lush and the rhythms so captivating that the desire to place the CD on last track repeat is overwhelming.  Indoor Relaxation provides some of the notes that sound very similar to attention noise of a modern computer operating system and typing whilst listening to this modified drum 'n bass excursion is slightly frustrating. So the thirteen tracks are all different and more importantly all excellent in their own right. Pure brilliance! (Phil Brook).

 

 

BURNT FRIEDMAN & THE DUB PLAYERS. Just Landed. ~Scape004CD

Imagine a five piece collective, contributing drums, bass, keyboards, guitar and programming and you have an ensemble that are OK but nothing special. WRONG! This album entices the best out of an electronic dubscape and although only nine tracks are listed on the sleeve notes, there are actually ten! I suppose mention should be made of DJ Booth, who not only plays the keyboards but also contributes the important instrument of FX turntables, so you may now realise that this is no ordinary disc. Add the even more important mouthharp performed by guitarist The Cousin Of The Sausage Smearer and you should forget the frivolity and start to appreciate this album. My current favourite is Cassock Attack, where the melodic interludes fill the gaps between almost minimal dub. The stark conclusion to be made is that this is a lot better album than the listener may appreciate on first hearing. In fact Just Landed is a much-underplayed set that grows on the individual in a subtle way and it's only after a while that the true respect comes into focus with the way they combine live sounds with electronics. If I needed to sum up, no lover of this genre should be without this disc. (Phil Brook).

 

JEAN MICHEL JARRE. Chronologie. Epic 487379 2.

Remember a while back in Modern Dance, when we had Patrick Rondat on the 20 Questions thingy? Well, one of the albums that he 'guitared' on is this! As was Jarre's style, all eight tracks are parts 1 to 8 of Chronologie. And, as is also Jarre's style, they vary considerably, from the lively and effective to the laid back and moody. This rerelease has been 24 bit digitally remastered, and, if it's possible, sounds a lot fuller and richer. Part one kicks off the album (no surprise there!), and is the longest track on the album. It tests and utilizes your speakers like a testing and utilizing thing - you're best sitting down with this track as you'll end up dizzy as sounds fly around the room. Even within the first minute Jarre's style and 'sound' is unmistakeable. Part three is the moody one, reminding me of Batman Returns (don't ask!). Track six is a cracker, with Jarre's synth pulsing away. To be honest, the only track that's suffers a little is part 4, it's just a bit dated. It sounds, at times, like Bonnie Tyler should burst out with I Need A Hero - very similar. On the whole, though, it's a welcome addition to the electronic section. (Dave w)

 

BOWERY ELECTRIC. Lushlife. Beggars Banquet. BBQCD213

It's nearly three years since their last album and it is an amazing compendium of styles and instrumentation, where laid back electronica complements scratching and lazy female vocals in a down beat style and that's only the opening track Floating World. As you may gather, this is no ordinary album, it's been tweaked or more precisely radically altered to allow the blending of live and computer generated sounds into a soundtrack for modern city life. On Psalms Of Survival, the overall effect is of aural devastation with a faint ray of musical hope amongst the dark melancholy passages. Traditional classic instruments are used on certain tracks to alternate between the Philly sound and even Mancini type songs. I am rather fond of Deep Blue, where the beats fit ever so snugly with the slow guitar riff and samples. Lushlife is, I suppose, a half way stage between rock instrumentation and synths, yet this is no compromised album as the production is always of a high standard.  Although never a happy set of ten songs, the experimentation is magnificent and their brand of music deserved to be heard by a much larger audience. The duo of Lawrence Chandler and Martha Schwendener must surely be commended for releasing their best album to date. (Phil Brook)

 

IRMIN SCHMIDT. Gormenghast. Mute SPOON 44.

We've read the book, seen the tv prog, heard the tapes, got the shirt, and now we have the opera! Schmidt, you might remember, is/was a member of the stupendous Can, the German prog rock band. I'm not sure where this little album fits into the scheme of things 'cos it's not exactly opera as we know it. As well as the orchestra, Schmidt makes big time use of synthesisers. But with the operatic styled vocals, mixed with the usual icons and images of 'proper' opera... just not really sure. I would imagine old fans of Schmidt's work will eagerly eat it up, but may have mixed feelings once spun. Opera/classical types may find the use of electronics a bit too much. It really is a beast of its own. Schmidt is no stranger to producing soundscapes as he's written countless scores for films, so working with images and trying to portray that stands him in good stead. To be honest, I'm not really sure about it myself - I rather like the music, and one or two of the songs are okay, but on the whole I still can't make up my mind. (Dave W).

 

BROADCAST. The Noise Made By People. Warp. WARPCD65

Contemporary electronic music is normally the work of a singleton or perhaps a duo, seldom is it the remit of a six-piece band. Broadcast are simply indefinable at times, yet at others they almost appear to be normal until you peer below the surface and hear the electronica. It could be lo-fi but the melodious harmonies especially on the John Barry inspired Unchanging Window lift the second track into the must listen to again camp. After the rather creepy Minus, the fuzzy noises exert a strange effect on Come On Letis Go before what I consider is the highlight of the album which grabs the attention in a slow deliberate way. Echo's Answer is certainly a very remarkable track and surely Broadcast will have to pull something really special out of their creative minds to improve on this. Not all the tracks have lyrics as Tower Of Our Tuning contains snatches of very subdued electronica that is of a non-clear variety designed to beguile us into examining the textures of the soundscape. Most listeners will find the rather quirky Papercuts very catchy and the following You Can Fall superb. Their output is infrequent, but their own brand of sound quickly grows and before you realise this particular Broadcast has converted you to their music. This is a remarkably special album. (Phil Brook)

 

WILLIAM ORBIT. Ravel's Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte. WEA.

Whilst Modern Dance doesn't normally review singles (they either date, or are deleted, so easily), but there's always the odd exception. Orbit's latest single is lifted from his new album, but this single has six version of Ravel's Pavane! There's the single version (edit), Album version (edit), Ferry Consten Mix, Ferry Consten Mix (edit), Single version and album version - phew! As has often been pointed out, Orbit's make overs on the classical side of things isn't exactly a new thing, Tomita, for example, was doing this years ago. However, with a latest in production, Orbit's tilted look at the classics is a refreshing insight. There's around 30 minutes on this 'single' and as I'm fully aware, that is actually longer than some albums we've had in! (Phil Brook).

 

TANGERINE DREAM. Dream Sequence. Virgin

Double album re-release of this classic TD compilation that contains many samples from their Virgin years. Not much of a surprise, really, as the album's been released on Virgin! The injustice, in my eyes, is the fleeting sample of Phaedra - under one and a half minutes! And that's it. Rubycon has a better airing, part one gets three and a half minutes, and part two is what I would imagine, the whole piece at 21 minutes. Some of the albums featured include Thief, Force Majeure, Dominion, Logos, Tangram and Stratosfear. Dream Sequence was released, originally, ages ago, and then deleted. It's been around five years since this happened, and it's with us again. And, as is always the case with a TD compilation, it won't please all the people all the time. Like me, a bit more of Phaedra would have been a bit better. As it stands, though, it gives a good cross section of their 'classic' line up period (Froese, Baumann, Franke) although these three aren't on all the stuff! Still no sign of Cyclone, though! Whilst this compilation in no way competes with their Virgin box set, it does make an affordable alternative! (Dave W).

 

LIGHTWAVE. Cantus Umbrarum. Horizon HM 1006-2.

Horizon Music are a small record company in the States, who have been brought to my attention via a few albums of Steve Jolliffe's. A couple of issues back you'll have seen Deep Down Far and Omni, both on the Horizon label. This album, by Lightwave, a band who've got a good reputation judging by the comments from Andy G at CD Services. Recorded in a cave (!), although that's not new as the release from DGM records last year showed that. Cantus is a mix of electronic soundscapes with French dialogue (and a bit of English) inbetween the tracks. I must admit that it does tend to spoil the atmospheres that are generated by the band, although I wouldn't say it totally destroys it. There's some fantastic pieces scattered throughout the album, and I guess the dialogue does form an integral part of the whole. It's just a shame there wasn't two versions, one without the vocals, 'cos I reckon it would be cracking experience. As it stands it's not bad, especially stuff like The Deep Music Of A Rolling World, Farewell To Darkness, Silent Souls and Geological Memories. (Dave W).

 

OMD. The Peel Sessions. Virgin.

Fifteen tracks with the odd song that should be well known to many of you: Enola Gay, and their early singles Electricity and the 'almost' punky Red Frame White Light. The whole period of these sessions covers them from 1979 through to 1983, and in many ways, captures them at their creative best. Saying that, though, they did go on to write some classic songs, but the rough and inventive edge that they had can be heard here. Genetic Engineering has a certain mystique, whereas Pretending To See The Future has that edge that I've mentioned. Julia's Songs, Of All The Things We Made and the stunning The Misunderstanding are highly original and whilst one or two do deviate a little, there's an undercurrent of technological icons, mystical laboratories and a hint of the new romantic - this is what OMD were all about - and it's live too! (Dave W).

 

TANGERINE DREAM. Soundmill Navigator. TDI CD027.

Tangerine Dream seem to have made an amazing comeback, although many would say they never went! Since they orchestrated their own label, they've probably had more albums out on TDI than all the other labels put together. This one was recorded in the halcyon 70s, live at the Philharmonic in 1976 to be more precise. It's the one track, lasting some 42 minutes, and contains plenty of superbly inventive electronic soundscapes. And, if that wasn't enough, you get the classic line up of Froese, Franke and Baumann. The old mellotron makes an appearance, and the magic that came across on live performances (regardless of the sleevenotes - more later) is beauty to behold. In the sleevenotes there's a lot of details about how, at that stage, technology wasn't quite what it should have been. Many things were unreliable, such as the mellotron, and the legendary banks and banks of synthesisers, and the ribbon cables attached therein. Despite all this, Soundmill Navigator is one of the smoothest live albums from the band in a long time. Like I've also said, because it's from the 70s, it is literally dripping with 'that' special magic that the boys had back then - stunning. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Module One. Experiment Collective Intelligence. ECI011

The ECI consists of producers and musicians who wish to expand into the new frontiers and release the underground dance music from its current straight jacket. So expect the unexpected on the 9 tracks offered by eight artists/bands. All the pieces last for around 6 min or longer which allows sufficient time for developments. The opener by Manitou is a curious mixture of avant-garde dub with heavy instance on non-dub type percussion and electronic experimentation. Salvo does in fact hit the correct spot. Even mellow drum 'n bass is catered for on Vindication by Hidden Agenda, yet do not think that mellow means bland. The following track by Serapis is certainly heavy in an industrial way with an abundance of distortion. The Track by Lunar is almost instrumental Portishead with sampled guitar breaks by Apollo 440. The second piece by Manitou shows how this trio can offer a vastly differing variety of electronica from the opening track and displays a vibrancy of early Tangerine Dream brought right up to date with modern beats. Ion is 10 min of pure delight. The finale Blue Green Aquamarine by Art Science is beautiful and the emotive melodic patterns surround a basic xylophone sequence that stimulates the mind. All the tracks apart from two have been taken from albums (that I would like to investigate) and so this album provides a very good insight into the new boundary of sound. This label says it all and this particular experiment works very well. (Phil Brook)

 

DJ PIPPI. Undiscovered Ibiza Volume 2. Undiscovered Recordings. UC002

The so-called Ibiza sound is basically summery chilled out tunes designed for those special holiday parties where the less frenetic musical action is to be enjoyed. The opening track by Over Soul features the light breezy voice of Gram'ma Funk on the very infectious Universal Unfolding. As you may imagine the track by the Surfers contains the appropriate watery sound effects along with an acoustic guitar which raises an ordinary instrumental into something more special. Return To Calm by Friction has an almost jungle style fast beat and a slow piano for compensation. I particularly like the deep bass, sax and dub chill out on the Vibrazioni Productions 'Introspettivo'. Perhaps to the background listener, many of the tracks may have a similar feel. There are loads of other albums purporting to encompass the true sound of Ibiza with only a few actually achieving it. This album comes much closer than most to that dream and this undiscovered Ibiza deserves to be discovered. (Phil Brook)

 

THE ENID. Tears Of The Sun. HTD Records. HTCD89.

The Enid, for some reason or other, have always kind of stayed in the background, producing a load of albums but yet never kind of making it to the big time. They have a dedicated fan base, and many of their albums, at the least, are brilliant. The band have been through several line ups, but it's always been the creation of one Robert John Godfrey, who's keyboard skills are nothing short of genius. Tears Of The Sun is a compilation taking us from their early years through to the last album - and whilst it would take nothing short of a triple album do this correctly, this album, as it stands, does a very good job. There's the odd 'new' track or a slightly different version, but it's tracks like Jessica's Song, Sundialer, The Demon King and In The Region Of Summer Stars that steal the show. If you ain't heard anything by The Enid, then this is a fine place to start. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Hmm. Sprawl Imprint. SP032

It's all the fault of David Benford. Who else would have the audacity to suggest that twenty artists from the designer electronica market should remodel well known hymns and anthems. Hmm…! The experience begins with Freeforms's bastardisation of that lovely hymn; Morning Has Broken which was popularised by Cat Stevens all those years ago. But don't expect this to be a traditional arrangement. If that appears to be too much to stomach, then just listen to what Bit Tonic have done to Shubert's Ave Maria. Horrified is not the word! Add other transgressions such as Puppy's version of Jerusalem, To Be A Pilgrim by Si-(Cut).dB's and the truly mangled Kum By Yah (poor spelling) that has been hideously tweaked by Benge. Surprising, more like astonished when you reach the fifteenth track Gout 8 A, where members of Add N To (X) under the name of Shenton Engine do unspeakable things to a song that Steeleye Span made in the 70's. The final act of desecration is perpetrated by Osymyso, who's version of the sacred hymn Eternal Father must be heard. These twenty tracks will never be heard in a church, no matter how modern. Will you be able to stand this or even appreciate what they are trying to do? I do and I must say that this has to be the most innovative album of the year. (Phil Brook)

 

SUTRA. Free. Delirious. DELIP17

Claimed as a massive vocal theme in the dance charts, this single starts with the DJ Antoine Vs Mad Mark edit which should fit very nicely into the modern swing of feminine stars appearing on Top Of The Pops. The Original Edit is more lyrical friendly with Zen providing the female vocals. The E.L.M edit is again a slightly different mix that remains very radio friendly though out its progress. Sutra is apparently a Buddhists term meaning teaching of enlightening and spirituality. All the three tracks are not overlong as the total running time of this CD is just short of 11 mins. (Phil Brook)

 

awayTEAM. LunarTUNES:EP'S 1 - 4. Black Plastic. BPR005CD

Consisting of the first four EP's all contained on one CD, the first thoughts are what's it all about. I am not sure if this duo have a style but they certainly wish to baffle the listener with an amazing range of material. The album opens with the big beats of Stompy and so the scene is set to change with Not My People, in which the vocal component is provided by the Alabama Singers and this catchy tune has similarities to the music of Adrian Sherwood, with the twist coming from the scratching. The highlight is the next track entitled The Big Swing , and the Cole Porter written What Is This Thing Called Love has been sampled in a big way. The performance by Keely Smith and The Nelson Riddle Orchestra has inspired a very up to date song whilst retaining the flavour of the original. I am very impressed and so should you be. After the Motown Funk with rap, yes that is funk combining the Motown sound and rapping, we are delighted with a kind of breakbeat. Another side of Andy Lovegrove and Ian Davenport's music is the dub infested Not My Dubplate in which the Alabama singers once again add the magic ingredient. Cut up beats feature on Cafe Del Boy and more hip hop from Solid Rox manifests itself on Struggler. The unlisted bonus track is a brilliant slice of heavy dub. If you like your music to be challenging, then this fascinating album is for you. (Phil Brook)

 

MONK AND CANATELLA. Do Community Service. Telstar. TCD3112

How heavy do you like your beat driven music to be? Well the opening track Enter The Monk offers a thumping beginning to this CD and it makes the music of the Prodigy appear to be quite tame. It's all the work of an unlikely duo, consisting of an indie fanatic and a hip-hop maniac who plough their way through a dozen songs. Jim Johnston thrashes the guitar and Simon Russell programmes the keyboards on songs that generally have a hard edge. The track entitled Elephant is a mix of cut up beats, unusual samples, weird guitar moments and bittersweet lyrics, which despite my description is quite melodic. They even tackle the difficult rock ballad genre with Tender Love or the pseudo punk rock sound with Chilli Bomb. The final couple of tracks features differing mixes of a quite brutal song called Slagger. Neither entirely rock nor electronic big beats, they fit uncomfortably outside any category and that's exactly why this duo is so special. (Phil Brook)

 

JIMI TENOR. Out Of Nowhere. WARP. WARPCD76

Is this the right disc in the CD case? The opening track is pure modern classical from the Orchestra Of The Grand Theatre Lodz in Poland. I suppose it just shows that this artist is widening his horizons that already have been stretched as far as the eyes can see. Incidentally he expected another person to orchestrate and score the album who turned out to be an absolute waster and it ended with Tenor having to do it all himself whilst the orchestra waited for the 'script' next door! Having said all that, it's a wonderful album of 10 diverse tracks. After the orchestral opening, the following Hypnotic Drugstore starts with tablas, a funky sounding sitar and it's not difficult to imagine it living up to the title.  The very laid back track Paint The Stars is ideally suited as a film soundscore. I am very partial to Pylon, as the deep bass and lush sax compliment each other where the subtler electronic effects seem almost out of focus. By the time we reach Blood On Borscht, the orchestra is allowed to interfere with the heavy metal section and it's all accompanied by a choir. The only compromise to commerciability is the single Spell, but even this up-tempo happy choir version is suitably modified for the album with orchestral arrangements and the sitar. The finale again gives Tenor the opportunity to delve into the soundtrack world and deliver a feeling of isolation before his new wife sings Call Of The Wind. It is still difficult to conceive that this Finnish guy was discovered busking on the continent only a few years ago and three Warp albums later, he has proved to be a major player incorporating a bizarre number of idiosyncrasies. Sheer brilliance. (Phil Brook)

 

TIM BLAKE. Magick & Crystal Machine. Voiceprint VP210CD & 211CD

At times, the work of Blake has been overlooked, especially on his work within bands such as Gong. Mind you, saying that, anyone who has even the remotest inkling about what Gong are about will fully appreciate his sonic soundscapes that have enriched the early Gong albums. In and amongst his appearances in bands he managed to do a 'bit' of solo work. References to Tangerine Dream and Ashra are obvious, but to be fair this is a bit like saying Jimi Hendrix sounds like Steve Vai (just because they play the guitar. As with these two, the same is with Blake, his style is different and the only true link to TD is the fact that Blake uses synthesisers! Magick has the best production, and uses more ethnic music in and amongst the soundwash. There are also slight hints towards White Noise - the band, not the actual sound. Lyrics are used on Magick, and there is a slight dated air about the album, although as a whole it works rather well, showing where and what Blake was about. Crystal Machine, however, has more than an edge. This demonstrates Blake's synthesiser skills and imagination far better than Magick. As daft as it sounds, Magick is more of a band album than Crystal Machine - daft because Crystal Machine is the name of the band, who are on both albums! There are less tracks, but longer, on Crystal machine, allowing development, and the gem has to be track 4, Synthesiser Intemporel, a fifteen minute plus live recording. It has all the hallmarks of a classic synth piece, whirling sounds, shifting cascades and that impeccable use of the echo that underlined so much that was good about Gong's more ambient pieces. Indeed, gliss for the synth! (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. The Late Night Mix. Universal. 560623-2

Those CD players that can accommodate 5 discs are becoming more popular, especially when set to random selection. Yet it still does not help with the choice of which discs to place in the machine. For those who have difficulty in making these decisions, then double albums like this one are ideal. 38 tracks from a wide range of artists and bands with the common link of late night easy listening are assembled to make this a fine album. Disc One commences with Moby's Porcelain and ends with Summertime by Miles Davis and in between are the old, such as Inner City Blues by Marvin Gaye and the new like Groove Armada's At The River and the superb Les Nuits by Nightmare On Wax. On The Second disc, I like the drum and bass version of Sun Rising by The Beloved, which is naturally chilled. Other well known inclusions are Goldie's Inner City Life, The Orb's Blue Room and The Sabres Of Paradise with Smokebelch II the Beatless Mix. More surprising is The Payback by James Brown, which actually fits well into the overall package. As you must have already realised by now, each track presented here is not a full-length version, but that matters not. To recap then an album featuring loads of good material which most listeners will find pleasant to their ears. (Phil Brook)

 

PENDRO. The Oxide Heresies. Fflint Central BLAS002.

Broadcasting live straight from the nth dimension comes Pendro. Voice samples, synth loops and sound effects rock and shift your senses on this amazing album. In many respects, the term music here is probably stretched (with the exception of one or two 'samples'). A weird landscape unfolds as you trek across numbers such as Telepathic Ferris Wheel, where you're gently prodded with memories of Hellraiser (II) and awfully dark places where even Peter Cushion would shit his pants. Difficult at first hearing because this stuff is so different and, yes, brave. It's obviously one of those albums that will either work, or leave you wondering what's going on - a bit like an aural rape. An electronic landscape haunted by dying sodium lamps is painted via the track Tazoa Torture Temple, and a vaguely familiar cymbal riff  kicks off Birds Love To Prey (although it doesn't say whether these are the feathered kind!) where your ears simply can't keep hold of the cutting and pasting of the sound samples. Stockhausen meets Charles Ives on Fugitives On Ice - staggeringly dark and inventive, and it will take a few spins afore the true colours begin to shine. For more info on this album, or any on Fflint Central check out their website: www.fflintcentral.co.uk. (Dave W)

 

RED SNAPPER. Our Aim Is To Satisfy. WARP. WARPCD78

Sometime during the playing of this album, you must remind yourself that this band is only a trio who somehow manage to combine rock with that all important attitude and dance. Thair, Friend and Myers just about keep the lid on a simmering pot of brooding instrumentals and vocal tracks that prevent stereotyping. Their sound is distinctive yet far from repetitious. The album follows a similar pattern set up by the previous releases with the added advantage of being more adventurous. If you enjoy unusual beat patterns and deep bass then adornment of these guys music is assured. On the second track, Some Kind Of Kink a sample from David Essex's Rock On has be digital manipulated into the makings of a good song that was clearly lacking in the original. Don't Go Nowhere combines strange noises with a solid beat and bass that I could listen to all night, basically cos it's so good! On Bussing, the hi energy feel purveys until the scratching and mellow sax playing change the emphasis in direct opposition to the following piece I Stole Your Car in which the jungle DJ MC DET gives his own interpretation to the proceedings. It's left to the finale to deliver the absolute stunner with its shimmering effects. Red Snapper certainly pack a punch and there's no point in trying to avoid it as their infectious music takes over the soul. (Phil Brook)

 

LORD LITTER. Stone Premonitions Presents. Stone Premonitions SPCD 008.
For all you lot out there who've no idea who Lord Litter is, then here's a bit about him: Lord Litter is one of the leading lights in the International Underground music scene. He has worked extremely hard promoting other people's music. There you go! Stone Premonitions have gathered a collection of the man's own music on this cd and I have to be truthful here, it's very surprising. Open Up The Gates opens the album in fine style, and it is reminiscent, in places, of Yes. Robertism reminds me a little of something that maybe Robert Calvert would be proud of. One or two of the tracks aren't as strong as others, but the potential is very good. A Real groovy Black Night is a great number, with some pretty smart guitar work. More information about Lord Litter on the cd cover would have helped in fully appreciating what the man uses (instrument-wise) and where his inspirations come from. There's a real festival of styles and genres that bring to mind all kinds of sources, but the overall feel is that the guy has had one hell of time recording the stuff here. From pop, to industrial soundscapes through to hell knows what - this really is a tour de force. (Dave W).

HOLGER HILLER. Holger Hiller. Mute CDSTUMM109.
It's been a while since I've had anything in by ol' Holger. As you might well expect, this new album contains a barrage of electronic sampling and complex song structures featuring a load of incredibly curious structures and background sfx. There's twelve tracks in all, with a mixture of German and English lyrics, and titles. The album kicks off with Curmbox, and moves through numbers such as Pulver, Traum, Toyshopshoptoy and L'Amour Fou. Obviously, as is always the case with Hiller, some songs work better than others, and more than any other album I've heard of his before, this one seems to use more styles and flirts with dance, techno and pure electronica, all done in Hiller's inimitable style. This self titled album is a natural progression from his earlier work, and, dare I say, even more accessible than any yet. In many ways this would make a superb starting point for anyone not familiar with Hiller's work, and if you fancy getting hold a bit of experimental electronics, then here you go. (Dave W).

VARIOUS. Corrosive Breaks. Atomic. ATOM007CD
This is our first stab at reviewing an Atomic product and let me state that this much better than I thought it might be. In fact I could be so pedantic to say that out of the nine tracks available, you would be hard pressed to decide which was the filler. It is obviously aimed at the very modern electronica market and therefore was assembled with my ears in mind. There are no sloppy beats produced here and every track has a very different feel. I do not know most of the artists apart from Total Eclipse, who's music ranges from heavy trance to almost ambient and the electronic sculptor who uses the name Voodoo People. It's not all instrumentals as Children Of The Stone cracks up the tempo with Incandescent in which the slightly detached sounding vocal track combined with an organ and a funky beat, injects adrenaline into an already exciting track. 6 min 19 sec is hardly long enough for such great musical moments. I could have easily overlooked Horns by the appropriately named Sonic Assassins, which cleverly combines downtempo with harsher sections to make another highlight. Total Eclipse yet again displays their inspiration, in which a reggae beat is enhanced by a double bass and some nifty synth riffs. I certainly admire their Cyborg Scrapyard and the duo get their remixing hands on the penultimate track by Jaia. The finale by Voodoo People is pure quality trance of the highest calibre and the infectious nature of Dialogue is hard to resist. Released around the Xmas period, this would make a great present not just at this festive time but during the rest of the year. Accolades using words like superb could easily be wasted as it's a lot better than that. (Phil Brook)

VARIOUS. Dope On Plastic 8. React.
My 11 track promo sampler does not include all the tracks that are available on the commercially available double album and so I can only comment on a selection of these modern cut ups beats. The infectious opener by Nick Faber sets the scene by crafting samples from the more collectable 45's and assembling these into a mighty cut that soon blends into the next piece. Hot Knife Blues is definitely well titled. More samples from a variety of styles provide the basic information to display Latin licks, Northern Soul and twisted roots reggae (their words), which is all wrapped up with a new millennium feel. Idiot Proof has a distinctive flare for double bass notes and crisp snare sounds, which are combined on B-Boy Contortionist into pure hip-hop. Rather surprisingly my copy is a mixed CD where the joins between tracks are well camouflaged in direct comparison to the proper commercially release which is unmixed. With breakbeat being the main theme, there should be more than sufficient here to interest the modern generation. (Brooky)

 

ARC. Radio Sputnik. DIN. DiN7

A collaboration between Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve, which at times evokes memories of some of the better aspects of earlier Tangerine Dream whilst remaining very modern. The album is limited to only 1000 copies and so it has already become a collectable item. The music by necessity has to fit into the title of fine contemporary electronica and it does this with style. I have not decided whether it’s best to listen on headphones to obtain all the subtle nuances or just turn the volume up on your hi-fi. There is little point listening to this on a crummy steam radio as so much will be lost and even less point using Radio Sputnik as background music, as total involvement is the only way to achieve the best out of this album. Having said all that, this 60 plus minutes engrosses the listener making them wish that they sampled the live concert that was recorded at the 5th Alfa-Centauri festival in the Netherlands a couple of years ago. The opening piece Steam has many a likeness to Tangerine dream, yet this is not so much as a copy rather than a much expanded view. Of the eight tracks, Transmit 1 is remarkably short in duration for these types of instrumentals and has little time to develop during the two and a half minutes. The title track utilises a plodding bassline to give more impetus to the haunting melodies. Who walks behind you is a combination of electric piano and flute like sound echoing around a bed of subtle electronica. It just proves that a live album can really be as dynamic as studio based recordings. (Brooky)

 

ZERO 7. Simple Things. Ultimate Dilemma. UDRCD016

Sounding a little like the French duo Air except when singing, they have packed lots of mellow moments into this album. On the pleasant opening track I Have Seen, the simplistic vocals provide just the right feeling to this orchestrated score with brass sections. The following Give It Away has a simple acoustic guitar riff, Rhodes type of piano and lots of disco style orchestration that can only put the listener in a happy mood. The next track, Density is just musically beautiful, yet tempered with slightly raucous female vocals. The continuation of very pleasing instrumentals continues with Polaris where very sumptuous orchestration and sympathetic electric piano complement each other until the harsher middle section intervenes the score. On Distractions, the mood is very eerie and the female voice adds an almost detached quality to this subdued song. The penultimate track This World is wonderful mainly due to the catchy sax breaks and infectious chorus singing. The best is left to last with the delightful use of a string quartet on a magical score. The more I listen to this album the more I think that a sampler has been used on Moon Safari by Air as the compositions are so familiar especially on the mellower tunes. It should go without saying that here is a very good album for your collection. (Brooky)

AIR. 10,000 Hz Legend. Source. VISA6520

The French duo has finally released their long awaited new album. After the well known Moon Safari, this is quite a change, but closer inspection reveals their personal musical imprints. They still enjoy using treated vocal performances to enhance the overall perception of various tracks including the first two. The opener, Electronic Performer, may on first hearing appear to be slightly disappointing, yet those playing this for a second or ten time will soon appreciate the musical complexity and rate it very highly. The music is inspired yet still remains well within the boundaries of acceptability. On the instrumental fifth track Radian, the treated piano is engulfed by succulent sounds that include the harp. The following piece Lucky And Unhappy is much more menacing with a pleasant vocal performance. I suppose the closest you'll get to their trade mark sound is People In The City, which uses plenty of their stock phrasing in a haunting but truly inspiring way. The finale Caramel Prisoner is an instrumental that uses a simple strummed acoustic guitar accompanied by yet more haunting electronica.(Brooky)

 

FLUKE. Progressive History X. Circa. CIRCD37.

I have always been a fan of their distinctive type of intelligent dance music. Never letting current fads interfere with their music, setting trends rather than following, this CD charts the trios rise from early tech house dance days to the much more defined sound that is rather unkindly referred to as being similar to Underworld. I would naturally take that as a compliment. Encompassing the Original Mix of Thumper and mutating via the Bullion version of Bullet to one of the great mixes of Atom Bomb, Fluke deserve to be heard. A brand new track is included here that's featured on the Tomb Raider film, in which the high velocity Absurd (Whitewash Mix) is surely destined to kick ass. The album finishes in no time at all. The ten years since this band was formed have not been wasted and here preserved on a shiny disc is music that's not dated. (Brooky)

 

CHICANE. Presents Visions Of Ibiza. Beechwood.

Nick Bracegirdle is the man behind Chicane who offered those tantalising musical offerings that brought public recognition. His very popular Offshore took him into the charts. Now he has released a double CD that epitomises his choice of music, which is at the heart of the Ibiza culture. So expect the old to rub shoulders with the new and quite a wide variety of songs. This promo has only half of the tracks and the press release refers to a provisional listing. So the final outcome may not be quite the same, but there are some excellent choices. Who would expect Aphex Twin's Window Licker to be included on the same album as William Orbit's Strange Cargo? Or perhaps The Perfecto mix of Wide Open Space by Mansun fitting surprisingly with the wonderful Gorecki by Lamb. Again Smokebelch by the Sabres of Paradise is included, as is the still memorable All I Need by Air. There must be something here to please one and all. (PeeBee)

 

ROBERT MILES. Organik. S:alt. SALTCD001

Anyone thinking that this guy has remained within the general musical area that his excellent Children single encompass will be very surprised by the latest album. Encompassing such diverse and legendary figures as Nitin Sawhney, Bill Laswell and the London Session Orchestra, the listener should receive a feeling that Miles has progressed tremendously since those halcyon days. At first the new album is a bit of a shock, but the purchaser should easily warm to these new compositions and even more importantly acknowledge the fine contemporary music on offer. The third piece, Paths, is one of only two songs with a vocals and this effectively enhances the polished performance. The next track Wrong includes a wide mixt of east and west, held together by the lead guitar. On It's All Coming Back, the funky style is incorporated into a selection that would not sound out of place in the Ozric Tentacles songbook! The ninth offering allows the music of Indian with it's natural sitar ridden sounds of invade the obvious western components. The two part Improvisations must be the highlight of this impressive release on his own label. This really contains my sort of music and Miles achieves a style that many others fail to reach. (Tashman)

 

VARIOUS. Mana Medicine. Liquid Sound Design. BFLCD49

This is good, in fact it represents a lot of the musical niceties surrounding the down tempo scene. Ten dependable cuts with a mixture of dub, breaks, Hindi and Balearic influences. If the opening ambiences seem a little long-winded for some then it's all due to listener's impatience. Elephant Waltz by Jairami must surely be destined for inclusion on a plethora of compilation albums. The following track by Zen Lemonade is another marvellous example of blissed out beats that occupy the dub arena that are guaranteed to put anyone in the holiday mood. Die Ashanti is crying out to be heard by a wider audience. After the acoustic guitar into of Angel Tears, the more serious side of dub is displayed with virtuosity by OTT. Lead guitar based music cannot often be described as chill out, yet Drift's Infusion blends ambient themes with guitar riffs in perfect harmony. The beat is one of those infectious styles that never completely satisfies and leaves you just craving for more. This and two other tracks are exclusive to this CD and you are advised to consider adding this to your ever-growing collection. Disappointment will only be on the agenda if you miss out. (Brooky)

 

SEVEN WORDS. Your Move. Hand Held Halo hcd905.

It's not often that MD reviews singles, as such, but this one's rather an exception (plus, it's over 18 minutes!). Hand Held Halo have sent us a little package that contains some very tasty electronica - more later! This single has four tracks, Master Of My Mind, Your Move, plus two remixes of Your Move. Not sure if I'll get plenty of abuse for this next comment, but the comparisons to Erasure and Depeche Mode is staggering, mainly Vince Clarke. But as far as I'm concerned, that's fine by me. The first remix of Your Move (Monopoly Buzzy Mix) is rocking, it can't fail to get those feet moving, a genuinely good remix here. The fourth track, another remix of Your Move, this time the Phear Mix, takes the track to another dimension! Incredibly different, which, for me, warrant inclusion on the single because it may as well be another totally different song. Despite the seeming accessibility of the songs, don't be fooled, they actually get better with each play. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Intro To Hand Held Halo Records. Promo.

As promised earlier, here's one of the goodies from Hand Held Halo. I don't think this is generally available, more of a taster or sampler to what's going on down at HHH. It's a five track sampler kicking off with Gebrauch-Musik's Reconnect. This still has echoes of Vince Clarke but for me benefits from being that bit more menacing, and again, it's a track that gets better with repeated playings. The vocals are superb, and the use of the synth and vocal samples is well clever. The second track is Seven Words, with Master Of My Mind, which we've already covered above. The band with the name and the label are up next, Hand Held Halo, with Dream Of You. Sadly this isn't really to my tastes, but as the label states, they know full well that the label can't cater for everyone! Bit too dancey, I like to be challenged with electronics, sorry! Phear's up next with Invisible People. This is, again, one aimed more for the dancefloor, but more for the clubs as opposed to the disco. Alongside the steady beat you're getting phased synth blasts, flanged rings and there are some rather inspired passages, especially where the beat stops about a minute and a half into the piece where you're just left with the effects continuing. Spul conclude the sampler with Summer. This, for me, is by far the best on offer. The use of the (sampled?) bass with the phat sound bleeping before the piano enters is just a scorcher (no pun intended, or maybe there is!). All in all it's given me a good idea as to what HHH are all about, and whilst I do tend to prefer the more darker pieces, the label looks like it could provide some great music, hell, they have! You might want to check out their website and get more info on the artists - a link is on the MD website. (Dave W).

 

VARIOUS. Laboratory Series Volume One. Planetsounds PLAN 001.

Having cut my experimental teeth on artists such as Electronic Musik, BLD and Cavendish Sanguine, I was looking forward to hearing the tracks on this little beast. It came via Planetsounds, a label that has all the right intentions and ingredients to strengthen the fact that there's a lot to be said for composing and recording via the safety of your own armchair. One or two of the artists are familiar, such as Pendro, Whitecube and Oleum (a real hard on of a track). Pendro kicks off the album with Debbie Does Dusseldorf, a cracking mix of porn samples, Burroughs-influenced Eastern sounds all held together via an enthralling and pulsing synth. Some tracks take longer to 'get into', such as Daniel Weaver and Alex Impey's Chump, which more or less takes longer to write than it does to play. JJ Howard's JS Howard (at least I think that's what it's called because it's difficult to scan what's what here) is a simple yet hypnotic piece. Magic City's Pinnocchio leaves you bewildered, as though some deranged electronic puppet has just given you the biggest mindfuck this side of the big bang, whilst Black Curtain's Melodica Playpen is incredibly intriguing, bringing forth memories of Deliverance meets the Waltons! Gelatine's Malaria is what I can only describe as the perfect audio example of the disease. Disco Operating System's Just East Of Lyra Northwest Of Pegasus surely must have been taken from the film Dark Star, intense! I really can't go on describing each track because there just isn't the space, but as time has gone on since I got this album, I've really got into it and there's some great stuff on here. Fifteen tracks that features some of the most cutting edge dark technology there is. The nearest description I can award this beauty is covert aural orgasm. Do not play this in public. (DW)

 

TIMO MAAS. Connected. Perfecto. PERFALB04CD.

He is well known for his wet 'n hard sound when utilising the decks to their fullest potential and uses his style to remix classics such as Fatboy Slim's Star 69. This double CD contains twenty of the best from the Perfecto stable. The opening track by Filmpalast has just the right beat to get the dancefloor full and the lo-fi singing along with the minimal changes makes this a very fine start. There is of course much more to look forward to as the first disc clocks in at over 70 min. Continually mixed as you would expect without a missed beat the range of material features many underground pieces with only Placebo and Midfield General being well known. The beats are prominent and the tempo constant especially on Sudden Journey by Mad Dogs. Fatboy Slim kicks off the second disc in which Maas delivers an Underworld style of treatment to Star 69. The growling basslines on Sonic Infusion's Reformatted General Midi Mix exhibit a stable platform for the acid riffs and rich melodies to infuse. With almost 140 min. in the company of the Maas way of working, if you're not yet clubbed out, then you obviously have not been listening. (PeeBee)

 

MARIO CEE-INCORO. Earth With II Suns. Electric Melt. ELM8029CD

World music comes of age with electronics of all styles is what you get here. That statement sounds a little bland but this is certainly a fine album. The opening musical remark is one where a very infectious guitar riff, syrupy laden strings and a drum and bass beat all contribute to the marvellous Millennium Bug. Not all the ten tracks are instrumentals as the following Decoda again features the restrained guitar playing of Monritziay Jones which gives a very eerie feel to this soundscape and then the combination of M C Rankin and vocalist Alexia imparts a different vibe. The diva style of vocal delivery with that a MC rapper sounds as though it should not work, but hearing is believing. The laid back effect achieved on Negitiviti has to be praise as I don't normally like diva singing, yet Mario has managed to make me enjoy this album. Perhaps it is due to the way the songs have been assembled and the fascinating use of rhythms. This track is so infectious. Newage 2K sounds almost classical in its construction yet the rap is well beyond the boundary. On Dreamcatcher, the quiet ambient themes are ably assisted by percussionists and speaker Ridia who all intermesh with the scratching of Danny D. The finale is a dub version of Negitiviti, which in many ways is superior to the original. Self indulgence? Certainly on my part!

(Brooky)

 

CONTROLLED BLEEDING. Our Journey's End. Materiali Sonori. MASO CD 90125.

Controlled Bleeding aren't a band that spring to mind easily. Mind you, once you've heard them, you can't understand why. It's hard to put their sound into tangible words, other than inspired. Whilst their influences range from King Crimson (part IV of the album is actually The Talking Drum from Lark's Tongues) you'd be hard pressed at times to realise it. Paul Lemos' bass is very much from the Jah Wobble school of dub. The album contains nine tracks, parts one to nine, with a subtitle of Hymns and Meditations - and never has there been such an apt title. The album as a whole is such a hypnotic and magnetic 74 minutes. Nothing bursts out, nothing is angular and nothing jars on the nerves, it all flows incredibly well, and if this, as is slated, their last album, it is a sad state of affairs; you just couldn't tire of this gear. Treated keyboards, dubby bass, ambient and echoing percussion with the odd vocals make this a must have for anyone into the styles of Eno, Invaders Of The Heart, Janssen and Barbieri, or David Sylvian, this is musica hypnotica - stunning. (Dave W).

 

JUNO REACTOR. Shango. Electric Melt. ELM8033CD

I have been following this band for a number of years and have always been impressed with their ability to stay ahead of the field and not get lost in a myriad of electric noise. Getting stuck in the same groove of trance is not for these pioneers. The opening track should give a large clue to their direction by including large sections of world music within their own modern Western beats. Pistolero, I suppose could be loosely classed as cowboy trance, not in a shoddy way, but rather the Spanish flamenco style of guitar playing crafted onto a gentle trance beat that is sufficiently different to raise more than a few eyebrows. The next track lingers longer on the aspects of world music. Add tribal beats, ambient sections, heavy almost psychedelic periods and the outcome can only be exceptionally positive. My immediate reaction after the first playing was a competent product rather than something much better. This is why I always listen at least three times to an album, because the more you listen, the better the nine tracks get. I am now hooked on the two-part Nitrogen with its heavy beat and fascinating electronic sounds that make it appear somewhat detached. Electronic music with a difference - you'll like it! (PB)

 

LDT. Archive 1998 - 2000. Electronic Musik.

This is a limited release which features the label's now deleted Volume One, plus some extra material recently 'unearthed on a dusty hard drive'! Electronic Musik are one of the many new breed of self produced, financed, promoted, etc. etc., labels that benefit wholly from the internet. Indeed, if it wasn't for the WWW, then this whole new world wouldn't exist. Not having heard anything else from EM, I can only go by this release. I must admit it's certainly different! There's thirteen tracks in all, and it's mainly a collection of loops, samples and (dare I say) found sounds, and yes, it's incredibly appealing. It's that feeling of standing behind a door that hasn't been opened before, and holding the key in your hand. This stuff is bravely experimental, sharing the same kind of ethics as the Fflint Central label. I mean, who would have thought to do a cover of John Cage's 4' 33''? For those who don't know, this is four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence - brilliant! Many of the tracks pull the chaos trigger of the imagination, and tracks like Sound #3, When Only Atoms Remain, Drone #3 (remix) and The Test, send you to places where even dimensions don't exist. As with some of the FFC stuff, our language is not equipped to help me get across what this stuff is like. I just think it's brilliant that there's people out there who're prepared to carry the flag of experimentation and can still find, as Charles Fort once wrote, new lands. Uncharted territory, the heart of darkness, this stuff is inspired, and inspires. (Dave W)