System 7

The Water Album

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As its title alone indicates, Water was released as the counterpart to Fire, consisting of remixes by Hillage and Giraudy of nearly every track on the original album, plus one new number, all flowing into one another as essentially one lengthy, disc-long composition. Whereas Fire was much more of an upfront dance release -- though admittedly calmer in comparison with many other dance records -- Water embraces the ambient chill experience head-on. Without sacrificing beat entirely, Water is much more of a free-floating and relaxing release. Arguably, because it wasn't conceived as being for the dancefloor -- and therefore not in direct competition with the storming jungle/hardcore tracks of the time -- it's much more of a success to listen to than the often too-polite Fire. Hillage's dreamy guitar glissandos, snaking in and out of each song with a remarkable economy, fit the gentle flow of keyboards and production perfectly, stepping a bit more to the fore here, while avoiding any sense of worship-my-pedals heroics. The opening two remixes, of "Batukau" and "Sirenes," set the general tone of Water; they flow into a tied-together wash of sound that avoids new-age nothingness by setting the synth/guitar interplay to a subtle but still present rhythmic pattern, even on the latter track, where no drum sounds appear at all. Other fine efforts include the revamp of "Dr. Livingstone I Presume," which is turned into a queasy combination of sitar sounds, drones, and chilly organ, and the 25-minute-long take on "Alpha Wave," a quietly majestic pulser with Hillage's guitar floating serenely throughout the mix.

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