Universal Being's Archives gathers together both EPs the duo recorded before their first full-length album, 1996's Jupiter. Although Jupiter is an excellent blend of fusiony jazz, world music influences, and chilly ambient house, the EPs collected on The Archives are juvenilia, derivative pieces that are mostly notable for how much less accomplished they are than either Universal Being's later work or the contemporary releases by Rupert Brown and Max Brennan's other project, Fretless AZM. Some tracks, particularly the ten-minute opener "Desert Breeze" and "17th Night," are polyrhythmic layers of tuned hand and electronic percussion building up cross-rhythms that aren't as interesting as they might be. The rest are mostly featureless washes of impressionistic keyboard drones and dull rhythm parts, with the two minor high points being the brief "Deep Bowl Movement 3," which mixes some nearly subliminal ambient drones with a cracking free jazz drum solo, and the closing "Dance Hall Nirvana," the only track here with a notable melody, which has a ghostly, quietly tense feel akin to Brian Eno's "1/1" from Music for Airports. Unfortunately, two halfway decent songs do not a worthwhile album make, and all of Universal Being's later albums are much more interesting.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason