Photek

Form & Function, Vol. 2

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    7
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This album is something of a curiosity. Coming ten years after the first Form & Function, it is, like its predecessor, primarily a collection of previously issued but relatively rare material. It sounds like the grab bag that it is: "Love & War" and "Things" are both actual songs, featuring vocalists Chiara and Robert Owens, respectively, and in both cases the songs are pleasant enough but the frenetic drum'n'bass breakbeats feel a bit like they've been artificially pasted on -- though that's more true of the former track than of the edgy, heavily dub-inflected latter. It's on the "Teebee Remix" of "Ni Ten Ichi Ryu" that Photek's real genius starts to shine through; rhythmic and textural subtlety are not usually hallmarks of the drum'n'bass genre, but when they're present the results can be electrifying, and that's the case here. Unfortunately, on "Saturated Hip Hop" the typical weaknesses of the genre come to the fore as well: three good but slight ideas (a sharp and complex rhythm, a bassline that sounds like it's being played by a bodhran, a clattery backing loop) are made to carry far too much weight for far too long a time. Other tracks span the spectrum from brilliant to mediocre: "Full Spectrum Dominance" is unsubtle but works well anyway; "Man Down" makes nice use of creepy military found-sound vocals; "The Beginning" spends five minutes going nowhere. Fans will want it; newcomers may want to start with the previous installment and then proceed as they deem necessary.

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