Harnessed the Storm

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Drexciya apparently spent the time between the release of Neptune's Lair and Harnessed the Storm draining their tanks and producing seven distinct "storms" (i.e., albums), of which Harnessed the Storm is the first, despite being the third released (Transllusion's Opening of the Cerebral Gate and the Other People Place's Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe were released in 2001). On Harnessed, the aquatic sci-fi themes remain, evidenced in titles like "Aquatic Cataclysm," "Dr. Blowfins' Black Storm Stabilizing Spheres," and "The Plankton Organization," but the Drexciyans -- an underwater civilization whose ancestral roots date back to the pregnant slaves thrown overboard en route from Africa to America -- have significantly refined their sound to make this their most instantly palatable full-length yet. While there's little denying that Drexciya's best work can be found on The Quest, Harnessed the Storm has plenty to recommend it and only proves further that they remain at the head of the neo-electro class. The record differs from the setup of Neptune's Lair by offering ten extended pieces over the course of an hour, thus allowing each track to be explored fully. One minor problem with Neptune's Lair was the wealth of truncated pieces that often hampered the overall impact. Such isn't the case here, and each track has its own personality, thus side-stepping any sameyness issues. Also, the overall feel is smoother, with very few of the renegade blares and none of the ribbity vocalizations found on earlier works. "Song of the Green Whale," "Lake Haze," and "Under Sea Disturbances" rate well when compared to the classic mid-'90s material released on UR and Shockwave, with brilliant variations on those trademarked fibrillating FX and smacking beats in abundance.

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