Album Reviews: July 2001


Faithless - Outrospective (Cheeky Records)

It had been almost 3 years, the shakes, cold sweats, essentially 'cold turkey' had long since made their mark. Then from what seemed out of nowhere the dealer had turned the corner and offered up to the ex-junky a fresh supply of spiritual healing and the craving had returned.

Scanning through sleeve notes the moment I had picked up the album, I was not so much distressed, rather disappointed to see that Jamie Catto, former front member had dropped out of the crew, credited only as a memory. And had to go some distance to see that Mr Rollo had only become more anonymous and not disappeared entirely, well as this was first off his band, that would be a little silly. But despite these minor amendments those who had assembled to wake up 'Sunday 8pm' from its slumber and create what is 'Outrospective' have followed the ingredients to the recipe.

A horn followed by recognisable synthesiser, aka 'God is a DJ' supplied I presume by Sister Bliss, eases this affair into the world as the child's first breath are vocalised by Maxi Jazz. Then into what I might only remember as the music from Bagpuss resurrected and into a chilled out dub environment, space above and bodies around, as Maxi continues to do what he does best in his role as the storyteller. But with influence pulled from not only the regular Faithless cupboard, seventies funk competes with eighties club and now star in her own right, Dido contributing 'One Step Too Far', begging the question, who is now the master?

This is a good album and certainly a worthy follow-up to the last feature. An album that grows with each visit and this is certainly something I had not considered myself saying so soon. A mix of both the movers and chillers, Outrospective takes the crown with pride from its predecessor and will keep those nightmares from returning, for now at least. 8/10 Nick James


Radiohead - Amnesiac (Parlophone)

T: Radiohead. Modern day geniuses or pretentious art school wank?

N: It sounds a natural follow-up to 'Kid A'. An intelligent, obscure and far from 'run-of-the-mill' pop album.

T: But can you make out what Thom Yorke's saying?

N: No. He sounds like a wino down the subway just past midnight.

T: 'Pulk/Pull revolving doors' sounds like it's going to become some seventies funk anthem, but then turns into a magic grotto of white noise.

N: Reminds me more of a latterday Bowie. A modern 'Man Who Fell To Earth'. Sometimes it sounds like Thom's just fighting the valium here.

T: I think the big orchestral parts give the songs a kind of lift, even on the most downbeat of tracks.

N: It's good to hear bands still experimenting.

T: I think the album's definitely more instant than 'Kid A', especially on the tracks like 'I might be wrong' with its riff heavy coating and the 'OK Computer' regressive 'Knives Out'. 'Dollars and Cents' begins like Val Donican is about to come crooning in!

N: Definitely an early evening/night time kind of album. I don't think it will necessarily have the TOP 40 hits we have come accustomed to the band having.

T: But they've got such a massive fan base, that they probably will. 'Hunting Bears' is like a part of a film soundtrack where the main character is scanning the horizon for trespassers.

N: Makes me think of the Maharishi Makesh Yogi and spiritual guidance.

T: Well…we're getting to the end of the album and, having heard 'Like Spinning Plates' I have come to the conclusion that I am very scared of Thom Yorke.

Overall: Summing up, it's pretentious arty school wank with a sprinkling of genius. Not that we like to sit on the fence you understand. 7/10 Tone E and Nick James.


Depeche Mode - Exciter (Mute)

T. This is abit TOO chilled for me to be honest

N: But I do like some of Dave Gahan's wordplay though…for instance "forget the pictures on your TV screens/we'll steal the visions that you keep for your dreams".

T: Really the album's a relaxing, uncomplicated affair. Although I have to say I prefer the hard hitting, darker sounds of 'Ultra', to the carefree whims of 'Exciter'. That's a point…do you think they were using more than a hint of irony with that title…as the album is anything BUT.

N: Probably, 'Ultra' was a lot more, erm…exciting.

T: By the time you get to the hard hitting stuff like 'The Dead Of Night', you've been lulled so much by the other stuff that you don't want to be woken up by it anyway.

N: The album sounds more Martin Gore, than Dave Gahan to me. I think it's a very mature album. That doesn't necessarily mean it's the most exciting album. It's a pipe and carpet slippers album.

T: Yes! That's exactly it! Do you think their next album will be a "why, oh why, oh why are there so many repeats on TV" kind of album?

N: Yes, you may well be right. I just hope the next actually goes somewhere.

T: Having said that, 'I Feel Loved' is an excellent track. Well…at least it is up until the band decide to rhyme 'fire' with 'desire', which is as deserving of stern punishment as coupling 'love' with 'above'. Then 'Breathe' sounds inexplicably like the Clint Boon Experience!

Overall: This is certainly not something we were expecting. At Atomicduster we prefer something with a bit more balls to it than a eunuch on his day off. 5/10 Nick James and Tone E.



Naimee Coleman - Bring Down the Moon (EMI)

T: This sounds horribly like the Corrs. In fact it just sounds horrible. Maybe the second track will redeem her. Interesting first line: "I've been around the block/not as many times as you, but I've seen allot". Made me laugh, because I thought the words that may've followed in my immature warped little mind.

N: This third track is Duran Duran's 'Save a Prayer'! minus simon le Bon, and that bird from the Corrs in his place.

T: It's a shame because I always want to give good reviews to albums with a fit woman on the cover, but I'm afraid she'll have to sleep with me if she wants that to happen, although she'll need to ask my wife first. What do you think of this, Nick?

N: Not a lot. I think we should stop listening to it now.

T: I love you. 3/10 Tone E and Nick James.


The Beta Band - Hot Shots II (Regal Recordings)

T: Of course, The Beta Band were really unlucky in the fact that they had to pull the release of their originally intended single 'Squares', when I-Monster went and released their chart-busting fantastic 'Daydream In Blue' which samples exactly the same song. Shame, as both versions are extremely impressive. I don't think they need to worry too much though, as there's more than enough quality tunes here to satisfy the hunger of expectant fans and general commercial audiences everywhere. 'Human Being' is a fantastic example of the perfect pop song and songs like 'Gone' have a suitably morose but touching kind of feel.

N: I think it's just a typical Beta Band album. Although whether they're well enough known to merit a comment like that is open to question.

T: I must say though, I'm convinced that the new single 'Broke' is the right choice for release. Considering the title, this next line is going to sound dead corny…but I don't think it's going to break them somehow.

N: It's certainly not mainsteam in any way at all, and I think they will find it hard to break outside of their regular fan-base, but do you think that's something they want anyway?

T: Probably not, although the first 5 tracks are far more commercial than the second half of the album.

Overall: In summary, no great shakes here, but if they'd come up with a dozen 'Human Beings', we'd be looking at a classic album. 7/10 Tone E and Nick James.


Vince Clarke and Martyn Ware - Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (Mute)

N: I really had no idea what to expect from this album - although with the names of Clarke and Ware I had many preconceptions. I have honestly never sat and waited with such anticipation. According to the sleeve notes, "This album is intended to promote profound relaxation. It is best experienced with the use of headphones, and at the point of near sleep at the end of the day."

T: It's certainly an interesting concept, with each section being divided into colours (white - you are in heaven, yellow - on a beach, red - in the womb, blue - underwater, green - in a forest and white - in heaven again). The album is an almost classical in style, which kind of renders it journalistically impossible to place.

N: It's a bit like Pink Floyds 'Final Cut', minus the grandeur. This is my nocturnal album. I have taken to falling to sleep to it.

T: It's a bit like the background music you get on nature documentaries about swans or other elegant birds and small mammals. It's probably not a good idea to put on while you're driving though.

N: Although could become a prerequisite to in-car entertainment, just think how it might reduce road rage. But in my best Jilly Goulden, I can hear strawberrys, wild heather and what's this? Bagpuss! I've got Bagpuss on the brain.

T: Sounds painful. I'd get that seen to if I were you. I've got to say though that word 'spliff' seems to cross my mind a lot whilst listening to this.

N: This is an album you either have to really concentrate on, or let competely wash over you.

T: Er…I think the latter sounds more likely. I would listen to this if I was completely battered!

N: It's just such a chilled out album.

Overall: I wouldn't recommend sticking this on at any parties you may go to. Maybe the morning after, but even that's touch and go. It's more of a personal thing and one which definitely earns the 'Ad' seal of approval. 8/10 Nick James and Tone E.

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