Greater Than One

London

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    8
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A sprawling monster of an album upon its initial release, London became even more so in its Brainwashed reissue, a two-CD collection with the original album matched by a slew of bonus tracks, as well as a bonus DVD with the band's various videos and other visual projects. In whatever format, though, London is simultaneously a collection of stiff, steady industrial/funk beats just on the cusp of the flowing house/techno evolution that would fully upend expectations (and which Greater Than One soon came to grips with -- "Techno Golden Beat" here being a shuddering string-and-vocal loop moodout) -- and a moody, inventive album of sample based experimentation that took some of the shadowy experimenting of the post-punk years to their logical conclusion, as dramatic tracks like "The Rose, the Cross and the Flag" show. As with other London based experimenters such as Renegade Soundwave and Meat Beat Manifesto, arguably Greater Than One could only have come from the city that gave its name to the album -- song titles "Brick Lane" and "The Dark Streets of London" say it all (while the latter sounds like an amazing combination of This Mortal Coil and, two decades before its time, Burial) -- but similarly there's a sense of magpie appropriation from multiple sources. There's cut-and-paste experimentalism, the thick collages the Bomb Squad was creating for Public Enemy, the lingering impact of dub, any number of familiar and obscure samples, from Martin Luther King on the monumental "Now Is the Time" (included in the reissue in both its single and 12" mix) to random dialogue snippets throughout the album, which in combination with the sound effects almost make the album a Pink Floyd tribute from a much different angle. Meanwhile, the proto-dark ambient opening rumble of "Deep Shake," which almost predicts Main without even trying, and the concluding "Crisis" are just plain terrifying.

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