Lunatic Calm

Breaking Point

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Simon Shackleton and Howie Saunders are probably wondering why none of their tunes have been picked up for a car commercial. Their catchy, break-oriented electronica has "Mitsubishi" written all over it. They can take solace in the fact that their music has appeared in several high-profile movies, including Spiderman and The Matrix. But electronica in films is a dead end. You need those 30-second car spots to sell units.

Unfortunately for Lunatic Calm, it's unlikely that any of the cuts off their second album will find their way into an agency office. Years of label shake-ups and lineup issues created a massive time gap between Breaking Point and their first album, Metropol. And the music gap is evident as well. While Metropol hit right at the peak of mainstream America's brief affair with electronic music, the hearty big beat sound now feels quite passé. Which means that "Beatbox Burning," which began life as a 1998 demo, is completely dated. Attempts to expand (read: slow down) the musical palette end up sounding even more irrelevant, like the trip-hop vibe of "Your Future" or the baggy groove on "Sound of the Revolution" that takes its slacker poet cues from the Happy Mondays, except that the revolution is now a decade old.

A few sonic innovations find their way into the mix, including the wickedly synthetic pedal steel guitar on "I Go Wild." Perhaps if Lunatic Calm had just taken the plunge and released a truly dark creation, à la Death in Vegas, they might have held up better. But the way it is, Breaking Point is too late for more block-rocking beats, and too commercially compromised for any artistic development.

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