Chillout albums were all the rage during the early 2000s, but despite the attention, no one had made a record quite like Funki Porcini's Fast Asleep since the glory days of ambient techno, when the Orb's "A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld" merged Tangerine Dream, the Mad Professor, and Larry Heard into a collage of pastoral bliss. Fast Asleep, though obviously functional in a variety of contexts, wasn't designed to soundtrack trips back from the clubs or lazy nights at home with friends, and as such, it neatly side-steps the conscious hipness that usually compromises chillout records. James Braddell, a downbeat veteran stretching back more than a decade, crafted Fast Asleep to move in and out of its framework, with lengthy transitions introducing -- or deconstructing -- virtually every production. Similar to another Orb classic, U.F.Orb, the track markers aren't immediately obvious, though as the record progresses, it's easier to spot songs amidst the dark, film noir atmospheres and distorted vocal samples. Braddell does dubby ambient techno the way the Orb used to on "The Big Sea," then slowly shifts into underwater hip-hop breaks and loungey vibes for "We're Out of Here." The slow breaks and detuned chords of "The Great Drive By" acknowledge the influence of Boards of Canada, but adds more of a feeling than just melancholy. The real accomplishment of Fast Asleep is to dismiss the reliance of pop music and traditional song structure that had crept into the chillout scene after the success of records like Air's Moon Safari. What's far more difficult is creating a full-length of abstract ambience; consequently, the results are far more entertaining when it's done well.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush