Those familiar with Justin Broadrick's material through his Godflesh connections will find this album something of a surprise, but those who know his dark ambient leanings via Kevin Martin and such projects as Ice won't be as startled. That said, One is more of a stripped-down, quietly creepy effort -- one that's all the more intriguing given the circles in which he moves. Recorded on and off around 1992 and 1993, One bears the hallmarks of the bandied about "isolationist/post-rock" scene (as claimed by writers at the time), but generally moves in its own particular path. The closest general comparison might be Mick Harris' work as Lull, but instead of solely the steady unfolding of tones and rhythmic cycles, there's also a stronger sense of free float away from time structures, at least on certain tracks. The introductory "Fall" consists of a central soft loop and nothing more, but the nearly half-hour "Light Underground/Dark Overground" brings out more randomness, from what sound like distorted jungle animal calls to chilly, crackling static coming down like rain. There's even an honestly lovely, soft synth-sounding melody amidst it all, while distorted feedback echoes deep in the background. From there the collection explores disparate approaches within Broadrick's general experimental instrumental sound world, sometimes embracing serene reflection and elsewhere gently raising the hackles. When rhythm and regular looping are applied, often the effect is of a less threatening Main -- songs like "Round Our Bodies," with its almost winsome lead synth or processed guitar, sound sweetly pretty more than anything else. The conclusion of the album brings in some guests -- one Elizabeth B adds violin to "Death/Love Dealer," while a variety of folks assist on "1983-1987 (Edits)," presumably a collection of snippets from that time.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett