One of the most original and colourful albums of the 90's. It's not dance music, as it doesn't have regular beats. Neither is it ambient or minimalist, its wide variety of musical ideas make it a great album to actually listen to. It's just highly inventive electronic composition, peppered throughout by bubbly beats, pops, bursts and clicks, which are never thumpy or four-square. They were often pigeonholed alongside the Orb, but I find FSOL more interesting, at least on this classic ground-breaker.
It's also filled with good melodies, so that it always holds the attention through its two CDs. Sometimes these are looped high floaty tunes, like on "Cascade", "Flak" and the title track, and sometimes they're just catchy harmonic sequences, as on "Dead Skin Cells". Added to the mix are sweeping atmospheres, sparkling loops, and a huge number of sound effects reverbed to the max. It gets darker in the middle, starting with the utterly creepy disembodied voices that begin "Among Myselves", and continuing with the stark, pulsating "Spineless Jelly", and the bleak, industrial "Vertical Pig". The darkness is dispersed with the delicate looped guitar twangs of "Cerebral". Nerdy spotters of the overused Pachelbel's Canon chords will recognise "Domain". "Vit" is based around some very odd jerky thumps and squeaks. The second CD finishes off with some more strong, imaginatively-produced melodic pieces, each track adding its own personality. A true essential of electronic music that still hasn't dated.
October 3, 2003