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Spring Heel Jack - 68 Million Shades (1996) Retail CD
I can't believe this exceptional album hasn't been recommended by any customers yet. With the rise of Pendulum and the rebirth of Drum & Bass now seems as good a time as any to give this little classic the props it's due. 'Cos that's exactly what this record is - a D&B classic - certainly the best work Spring Heel Jack's Ashley Wales and John Coxon ever produced, and deserving to be mentioned in the same breath as Goldie's "Timeless" or Roni Size's "New Forms".Minimalist, hypnotic and conspicuously lacking any vocal performances, 68 Million Shades is allmore… too easy to dismiss as coffee table music by the hardcore junglist. Its waves of strings and rolling piano chords can make some of its tracks seem a little beard-strokey, but its melody, urgency and occasional cheekiness compensate for any suggestions of pretentiousness. Not only that, IT REALLY KICKS - the bass is deepn'dubby, the beats complex and crisp.From the opener "Take 1", SHJ hurl multi-layered synths, horn blasts and piano arpeggios into a chaotic whirl of sci-fi whirs and clicks and somehow bring the whole thing under control. The string led "Midwest" and "Plates" manage to do the same, involving some beautiful progressions of chords and cacophony. The drunken saxophone waddle of "60 Seconds" and sheer hedonism of "Island" are real highlights, both employing snatches of bongo drums and a sense of lunacy. Only on "Eesti" and "Roger Tessier" does the album lose its way a little, becoming unfocused, but once past this half-way point Wales & Coxon marshal their forces and give us "Suspensions" with its frantic piano undercurrent, and the all-too-short jollity of "Take 2".The final track - "Take 3" - is the sound of the carefully structured soundscapes that have come before it being shaken loose and utter anarchy taking over, the drums tripping over themselves madly until a quiet breakdown descends, complete with fake CD skipping effects, just to unnerve the listener until the drums come barging back in to complete the job.I wouldn't hesitate to recommend 68 Million Shades to anybody who has even a passing interest in drum & bass - I've played it to mates who hate the genre and have had some surprised admissions of approval. It's a record you can dance to, drive to, jog to, wash the dishes to, read a book to, or even (gasp!) just sit and listen to. There isn't an album I know that sounds anything like it, and if you can get your hands on a copy, you should.
- Spring Heel Jack - 68 Million Shades (1996) Retail CD
- 1019 x 800 px
- 127 KB
- 64 (0 today)
- 30/04/07 by allcdcovers
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