Archive

Londinium

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The debut album from the rather mysterious (though major-label-backed) project Archive, Londinium sounds like R&B on Prozac: trip-hop with evocative, gauzy synth textures (some from soul samples) girded by simplistic yet effective downbeat techno. There's either a sweet-voiced female or an abstract rapper (sometimes both) on almost every cut, and plenty of organic instruments added to the mix as well; lending a hand with the guitar work on four tracks is Underworld's Rick Smith. (Archive even samples Underworld's "MMM Skyscraper I Love You" elsewhere.) Despite an admirable production job and some enviably deep grooves, though, Londinium is just a tad too consciously stylish for its own good.

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