Thursday, 28 July 2011

A Very Warped History 10: 2002 (2 Of 2)

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2002 would see Nightmares On Wax take a slightly different approach to a new album. Having moved away from his previous techno work with ex-bandmate Robin Taylor-Firth to bring us the stone cold chillout classic Smokers Delight in 1995; which was followed by 1999's Carboot Soul which was a suitable sequel, and showed a progression in sound from the previous record whilst leaving room for more.



Mind Elevation is perhaps the black sheep of all NOW's releases (to the point where I debated even posting it at all). In it, George Evelyn takes a more mainstream approach to the sound that made the last two albums so popular. Now, the mainstream approach isn't why this album is very hit & miss with me, it just... misses something. For example: I've said a few times in the past NOW's intros to his albums are almost flawless, this one being the exception, it clocks in at just over 7 minutes and for the first few minutes it's fairly catchy, but it soon overstays it's welcome.

Despite this, the second track is better, it's a more suitable length for what it is. However this album does have some gems in it, and the first shows itself three tracks in: Sporting a sound progression similar to that of Morse from Carboot Soul, it finally captures that sound I'd been waiting for during the first two tracks.



Right away the album hits a twofer, Following it up with one of the singles and the first of the more mainstream oriented tracks on here, expanding upon the couple of tracks with vocals from Carboot Soul. And while it's nothing like those tracks, or like anything from NOW we've heard so far and it's perhaps not aged very well either. Despite all this I still think it's good track.



Three for three next, with another track reminiscent of the sound of albums previous. Built around a single loop, NOW works his magic to keep it fresh and interesting throughout, if a little short. It may not have the instant impact and appeal of some of his older tracks, but it's still unmistakably NOW.





I was originally going to give this one a miss, but it came up on shuffle and it turns out I'd forgotten how good it sounded. Again it's another delve into the mainstream side of things, bringing yet more vocals to the table. And surprisingly unlike Date With Destiny, it's aged quite nicely. A testament to both NOW's production ability and the voice of Chyna Brown.



Another case where NOW's production shines, the sounds of 70s 80s set it up perfectly for the period piece lyrics laid down by LSK. The track is catchy enough to grab you from the very first few notes and just does not let go. One of the places where the album truly shines.



And I'm going to gloss over the last few tracks to bring you the final one. The last few tracks are just as good as the ones previous, but this last one stands out to me the most, setting up where he's taking his now trademark sound over the next few LPs. Which is done in perfect style by laying down a trademark 7 minute chilled number.



Definitely check this album out if you've liked everything NOW related so far, it's patchy in places, but it has its moments and those moments are brilliant. Those of you who weren't such a big fan of this album, don't worry, the next few are pretty much golden and , dare I say it, almost compare to Smokers Delight in terms of quality. If you're looking to pick this up, have a look and see if you can find the 2CD version, it has a mix by NOW on it that is basically a retrospective of his tracks until this point. (and curiously has the track Thoughts labelled as Heaven instead)

Pretty Fly,
-Claude Van Foxbat

Friday, 1 July 2011

A Very Warped History 10: 2002 (1 Of 2)

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This time on Warped, we take a look at Boards Of Canada's follow up to their critically acclaimed Music Has The Right To Children. It takes a slightly weirder approach to the now trademark BoC sound, melding the already present nostalgic overtones with some downright strange elements. Samples of Numbers Stations, Backmasking, references to the Branch Davidians (As seen on the In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country EP before it), Hypnosis and even some slight Satanic implications (the total length of Geogaddi is 66:6), but make no mistake, this is still Boards Of Canada doing what they do best.



This LP doesn't have that slow dive into sound that it's predecessor had, it just cuts right to the chase with an excellent re-affirming of why BoC are so well regarded in the electronic world with this; Music Is Math.



But it's not long before it also let's you know this isn't the same Boards Of Canada from 1998, and do so with a track you may recognise from David Firth's Salad Fingers series; it's a melodic interlude, but with a menacing crackle and fizz lurking just below the surface, summing up the new sound of the album nicely



Geogaddi also embraces the simplicity found on the In A Beautiful Place... EP, with more than a few songs built around a recurring melody or theme. While some of the EP tracks dragged a bit; the tracks on here are more refined, with more variety and less length.



1969 features both backmasking and Branch Davidian references, the song is structured so that more layers are added as time goes on, starting with a simple 4 note loop and progressing from there, but rather than feel arbitrary, the breaks are balanced in such a way that everything flows together in a quite natural way to form the end experience.





And what's a Boards album without it's token ambient soundscape? well, there's several on Geogaddi but like Olson from their sophomore effort, this one stood out the most to me, just because it packs so much nostalgia and emotion into a small time frame, it's amazing and perfectly encapsulates the essence of BoC.



This song also stood out to me, and coincidentally happened to follow Over The Horizon Radar in the tracklist. I almost don't know what to say about it, everything from the production to the title is perfect. This track alone makes it more than a worthy successor to Music Has...



Dawn Chorus ushers in the last 4 or so tracks of the album, which crank the weirdness factor to the max. All but one of these is a BoC patented ambient soundscape, and the very last track is simply 1:46 of silence (some say to achieve that 66:6 runtime). I was torn between two of these, either this track or Diving Station, eventually Corsair won out. Normally I don't really care much for the drone side of ambient, but this track has enough subtleties to keep it fresh throughout.



And because I'm not going to post the track of silence, Magic Window, instead have this Japanese bonus track that I went to track down many moons ago, it may ruin the 66:6 runtime and have the weirdest samples of the entire album (even weirder than the Leslie Neilsen nature documentary on Dandelion), but it has some of the best sounds on the entire album. Plus it's nice after the rollercoaster that is Geogaddi to have it end on a high note.



I picked this album up along with Music Has..., so both albums kind of got merged in my head, I was new to BoC then and basically put them both on shuffle. It's been a while since I've listened to Geogaddi and I'd forgotten how good it was, it was quite nice to come back and have it almost be like my first listen. Anyway be sure to tune in next time where we will have another follow up to a classic album, Nightmares On Wax's Mind Elevation which hopefully shouldn't be too long depending on when I can get my computer woes sorted.

1969, In The Sunshine,
-Claude Van Foxbat