Robert Miles

Th1Rt3En

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Best known for his worldwide instrumental hit "Children," Italian dance producer Robert Miles was responsible for kick-starting the subgenre of dream-trance, a blissfully chilled-out fusion of Vangelis-style neo-classical music and progressive house beats, which helped him to bag a Brit Award and several Top Ten singles in the mid-'90s. Since his last commercial success, the Kathy Sledge-featuring "Freedom," 14 years ago, he's abandoned his celestial piano-based roots in favor of experimental trip-hop on 2001's Organik and ethnic jazz on 2004's Miles_Gurtu, a collaboration with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. Seven years on, he returns from the musical wilderness with his fifth studio album, Th1Rt3En, and another new sound that further distances himself from his Euro-dance beginnings. You certainly won't find any guest vocalists or infectious pop melodies on its 13 tracks, which apart from the orchestral cinematic ambience of the gorgeous opening track, "Orchid Miracle," the aural equivalent of a beachside massage on a king-size feather bed, and the second single, the opera-fused "Voices from a Submerged Sea," focus on a more guitar-led direction that owes more than a nod to the spacy prog rock of Pink Floyd and King Crimson. The likes of "Moving," "Somnambulism," and "Everything or Nothing" are packed with winding guitar solos, percussive rhythms, and atmospheric keyboards that are steeped in authentic trippy production, while the Jimi Hendrix-esque psychedelic rock of "Deep End" and "Black Rubber" and the free-form jazz-infected "Afterglow" continue his love affair with the sounds of the '70s. But it's when he combines his obvious prog influences with heavier electro leanings that Th1Rt3En really excels, such as the frenetic "Antimony," which blends acidic basslines, chiming guitars, and skittering beats to produce a chaotic techno/rock soundscape, while the pounding drums of "Archives" recall the hypnotic cyber-funk of Leftfield's "Phat Planet" before ending in a brilliantly unsettling bluesy guitar solo. The moody minimalism of closing tracks "Nonsense" and "The Wolf" perfectly winds down the album's unconventional musical journey, which will undeniably leave fans of his early work confused, but will provide an intriguing and fulfilling listen for his more recent converts.

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