saw this intriguing-looking album and listened to its samples on Neurodisc's
site, I knew that I was going to have to get it. Even though what I
heard over my slow-poke dial-up pipe was choppy and in mono, there
was enough there to thoroughly intrigue me. I had to get it.
I was not disappointed, and you
won't be either- if you like high-density, ethnically diverse
progressive ambient music. If you are blessed with audiophile ears
and gear, you're in for a major treat. And even if your ears and gear
are more modestly endowed, this will still stick around in your
player for a good long time.
Readers of my reviews will know
that I like to name various well-known artists as sonic comparison to
the artist I am reviewing. But I am not sure that I can do that with The
Spirit Level, simply because I haven't heard anyone anywhere
close to this. Banco De Gaia, perhaps? His work would be the
closest to compare, or perhaps ex- Tangerine Dream member Paul
Haslinger, but with an Asian flare. The depth of complexity and
danceability is definitely comparable with these two.
Stand outs&ldots;where do I start?
Every cut on this album has something wonderful going for it. Not a
lamer in the bunch. And it's nice and long, too- over an hour of
excellent listening, which is becoming a Neurodisc trademark.
I like getting musical bang for my buck.
kicks off the album with wonderfully towering synth chords, and a
montage of voice bytes. The feel is that we're in orbit, getting
ready for Something Wonderful to happen. And it does- as the floating
chords segue into a lively rhythm that manages to fly and float at
the same time. Intriguing vocals ornament the back end of this song.
"Movements in One"
begins with some Asian voices, and that shivery, rapid-fire sort of
percussion that is the trademark of Trance and Ambient music. Can a
piece be fast and slow at the same time? The listener is encouraged
to 'Relax' even while the pulse of the song is running away.
is where things begin to get very interesting musically. Here we have
a catchy vocal hook (Annie Lai), with some sharp piano, and a
mid-tempo rhythm. Too bad someone couldn't sneak this onto some of
the drearier top-40 corporate clone stations. The phone lines would
probably melt from the onslaught of outraged bubblegummers deprived
of their pop pap.
"Duang Jai Mae"
takes us to a mysterious, dreamy place, with some vaguely industrial
sounds that fade into the melody proper- a straight up dance rhythm.
Here's one I'd love to sneak into some hyperactive aerobics
instructor's player. It's got the right presence to motivate even the
laziest couch spud into motion. Even me!
Reviewed by Lorie Johnson for