Escapist, Phil Western's first solo work, does not, on the surface, sound like it was produced by the same person who was responsible for parts of Hilt and Download. It's too "normal" in comparison. But Western (aka DJ Philth), stripped of his more out-there collaborators (like Skinny Puppy's CEvin Key) and working here mostly by himself (with several guests on various tracks) sounds completely within his element. "I No Really" shows Western's industrial roots, with its clattering, metallic percussion, deep house bass, and samples of a woman undergoing some sort of surgery. Several tracks later, deep into the second half of the album, he kicks out "Full Moon," a 12-minute homage to Krautrock/house. Most of the album sounds entirely electronic, but violins (from Dan Handrabur and Michael Louw) appear, as do submerged vocals from Barb Kennedy. "Pleasures Gained" features droning vocals from Western's over dark-ambient/shoegaze soundscapes, and ends up encapsulating the psychedelic/anything-goes vibe of the whole album. Ethnic percussion, effected guitars, treated vocals -- everything including the kitchen sink. Recommended for anyone lucky enough to find a copy, Escapist will age well and remain a surprising experience upon repeated listening.
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AllMusic Review by James Mason