Artist Albums. – sound recordings

Artist Albums. – sound recordings – sound recording review


A Hundred Days Off (Junior Boys’ Own/V2)

Renewed duo retains group’s spirit but loses depth

When Darren Emerson fucked off for greener pastures, every Underworld fan cried a little bit for the future of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith. Worries circulated that they might regress to Freur Doot-Doot-style tripe. After the relative disappointment of Beaucoup Fish, the anxiety was that much more poignant. Well, heave a sigh of relief – but don’t get too comfortable.

The album gets off to an encouraging start with “Mo Move,” hedging a near-perfect straddle of Dubnobass and Second Toughest. Skimming the surface of Hyde and company’s past triumphs, the album’s depth begins to wane until it finally bottoms out with the plodding “Trim” and grossly out-of-place “Ess Gee.” Fortunately, the standout “Dinosaur Adventure 3D” screams in smacking of previous Underworld, and the gurgly synth bass of “Luetin” provides a satisfying close. Nevertheless, without Emerson’s beat mastery, one can’t keep from thinking that something’s missing. – Erin Hutton ****


Colorful You (Naked Music)

Deep house for long elevator rides

Take equal parts throwaway R&B vocals, repetitive world-flavored arrangements and house-organ presets, and you have Miguel Migs’ first artist album, Colorful You. None of the 14 tracks include anything too offensive, but it’s likely that listeners will be lulled to sleep before finding their way to the dancefloor. “Waiting” and “The One,” though head-bobbers, hint of adult contemporary. Migs has managed to craft the perfect soundtrack for chain coffeehouses and mall boutiques the world over. – Robert Hanson **


Subway Series (Om)

Hip-hop out of the norm

Hip-hop gone way out of the box is the best description for Subway Series. This all-original album ranges from electro breaks to scratch-inlaid raw hip-hop taking a trip down the drum ‘n’ bass route. Underground MCs such as Dr. Israel, Churchill (with his mellow, fast-paced flow on “The Answer”) and DK fit nicely alongside breaks and synths of many flavors. For experimental creativity and implementation of all styles a la breakbeat, Ming and cohort FS are changing the way hip-hop is made and heard. – Larissa Gamarra ****


Writer’s Block (The Movie) (All Natural Inc.)

Windy City wordsmith keeps it natural

One-half of the Chicago duo All Natural, Capital D teams up with fast-rising beatmakers The Molemen (Panik, PNS and Memo) for his solo debut. Flipping mellow flows set to midtempo, sample-based production, D’s vivid storytelling skills shine throughout. Highlights include “Crossfire,” a cinematic tale of senseless club violence; “Little Girl Lost,” which is about a young lady growing up too fast; and “Mrs. Manley,” a touching dedication to a neighborhood hero. Intelligent and thought-provoking, Writer’s Block is hip-hop for grown-ups. – Brolin Winning ****


Deathsentences of the Polished … (Seeland)

Moribund treasures replace media antics

Negativland have turned from testing copyright limits to exposing the mundane items of the proletariat. After years of rifling through junkyards, Negativland emerge with a kit comprising a photo booklet of automotive carnage and wreckage found items, an accompanying soundtrack and car-insurance-like packaging. With songs that borrow titles from tunes by Brit butt-rockers UFO, this a sonic mishmash hinting of horror-movie sound effects and mid-20th-century tape experiments. Buckle up. – Erin Hutton ****


Conjure One (Nettwerk)

Mood music for sorority girls

It seems that Rhys Fulber of Frontline Assembly and Delirium fame wasn’t really looking to push the envelope too far on this one. As the most likely candidate for inclusion on the next Pure Moods compilation, Conjure One has everything one would expect: layer upon layer of ethereal-sounding female vocals, frigid pianos, subdued beats and pan flutes – lots of pan flutes. Although polished, “Tears from the Moon,” featuring Sinead O’Connor, is utter schlock. Strippers and B-movie producers are sure to rejoice. – Robert Hanson **


Dirty Dancing (K7)

London duo’s juggling act of electro pop

Swayzak continue in their refusal to adhere to any one genre of electronic music, but the common thread is decidedly robotic electro. Dirty Dancing is a sometimes gorgeous, moody melting pot of minimal techno, mod electro, fat-cheeked dub, space-age pop and subdued house. The electro-fied “In the Car Crash” is comical with efficient, Germanic male vocal delivery while “Make Up Your Mind” flows with a more female pop angle. Swayzak are widely influenced, but existential electro pop is the key. – M. von Pfeiffer ****

***** = Aeon Flux **** = Jem *** = Minnie Mouse ** = Velma * = Olive Oyl

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