For all that the previous album was called Vini Reilly, Obey the Time was in fact Durutti's most specifically Reilly-only release yet. Even percussion stalwart Mitchell only appeared on one track this time around, the fine, subtly uplifting punch of "Art and Freight," partially due to where Reilly's head was at this time around. Inspired by the late-'80s acid house revolution in England, with his native Manchester firmly at ground zero, Reilly aimed to combine that with his usual guitar approach to see what would happen. Where in nearly any other hands this would have been a pathetic crossover disaster waiting to happen, the end results are gratifyingly like what his compatriots in New Order did the previous year with Technique, synthesizing up-to-date styles to create something distinctly different. Even a title like "Spanish Reggae," which sounds like something out of world music hell, turns out to be both accurate and not a nightmare, with light flamenco snippets and other electric guitar work from Reilly fed through heavy dub echo over a slow, just menacing enough modern dancehall rhythm. While most of the percussion patterns Reilly creates aren't specifically acid in sound, reflecting more hard-slamming electro and synth-funk from earlier years, there's enough of the cusp-of-the-'90s about everything to show he wasn't dating himself. Keyboard stabs, as on "Fridays," clearly show techno's favoring of stuttering, choppy melodies, while Reilly's own knack for what suits a song best means sometimes it's more gentle acoustica and other times full-on electric shimmer and drive. "Hotel of the Lake, 1990" demonstrates his skills well, with a steady beat and clean, funky guitar and bass work accompanied by whooshing, minimal synth loops and, reappearing throughout the song, a classically Durutti five-note guitar melody with deep echo. Other numbers like the gently dramatic "The Warmest Rain" make Obey the Time another fine Durutti release. The 1998 reissue includes a 1990 dance mix by Together and, in an interesting discographical switcheroo, a moody jungle remix of "My Last Kiss" from 1998's Time Was...Gigantic album called, in a knowing nod to New Order's "The Perfect Kiss," "Kiss of Def."
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett