Go! Discs, 1994
A groundbreaking mix of trippy beats, scratchy samples and soulful singing that still sounds fresh. Unlike their West Country neighbours Massive Attack, their trip-hop contains no hip-hop, but spacious and mellow it certainly is. The samples and loops, using old scratchy vinyl sounds, are subtly dotted around the place without ever sounding cluttered. These give the whole album a feeling of floating in history between the 1920s and the 1990s. Sounds are used in daringly imaginative ways, for example the single "Sour Times" is built around an insistent jangly dulcimer noise. But the indispensable part of the work is Beth Gibbons' achingly emotional voice. In "Roads" she floats over the top to the barest of backings. "Glory Box" rounds the album off perfectly with some pure soul singing over a beautiful string loop and bluesy guitar scraping. Knowing that people won't want this lovely song to finish, they simply end it by fading out the looped chorus.
July 9, 2003