Intermix

Phaze Two

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As perfect a gateway for early-'90s industrial/electronic body music freaks into the realm of techno as any, Phaze Two thrillingly combines the emphasis on powerful, brutal beats and bass from the former with the generally more fluid approach of a DJ set. Ironically, Intermix really liberates Fulber and Leeb from the more static approach Front Line Assembly found themselves pursuing over the years -- without having to worry about spooky voices (and words) of doom and the like, the two really get down to creative musical business. The result holds up extremely well indeed even after many years of further musical development in the electronic/dance music fields -- while a product of its times and creators' backgrounds, Phaze Two never sounds too out of place. The stentorian "Get Religion" brilliantly sets the entire mood of the album, haunting synth-strings, a growling dark shimmer of noise loop, brusque bass-stabs, and rolling pulses and heavier beats all combining into an aggressive collage. If the rest of the album is in many ways a series of variations on those elements, they're clever variations indeed, with looser drum loops and breakbeats expanding the range of approaches throughout. Moments like the clipped start of "Can You Move It," distorted and whispered vocals cascading through the hard-hitting funk drums and harsher noise rhythms, and the Dead Can Dance-sampling "Monument," following in the vein of Future Sound of London's "Papua New Guinea," make for great results. A few times things are a little too obvious -- hearing the "Funky Drummer" loop for the eight millionth time via "Funky Hell" reduces the thrill of the track, it's just too familiar and overdone. By and large, though, Phaze Two is a solid winner -- maybe some of the overtly darkest dancefloor goodness around, but still goodness for all that.

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