Friday, March 14, 2008
Styles: Ambient Techno, Ambient
In 1996, art-design maestro Russell Mills assembled the tremendously impressive Undark collective — both Brian and Roger Eno, David Sylvian, Bill Laswell, the Edge, Kevin Shields, Robin Guthrie, Hywel Davies, etc. — for an LP of guitar-damaged beatscapes and textured invisible-soundtracks. Strange Familiar is an astonishing work, ebbing and flowing better than any other album in recent memory. Mills and his crew don't always wait for the next track marker to introduce a new theme, resulting in a work that pays huge dividends over the course of a full listen. (For example, Michael Brook's infinite guitar ceases long before the end of his showcase track "Stone's Egg," leaving Mills more than ten minutes to deconstruct a groove that begins with a cavernous bassline and warped percussion but ends up with little more than a few solitary bells.) This fusion of electronic and organic, future and past, begs for a new term to describe it; perhaps the time has come for the next step on from Hassell/Eno's Fourth World of the '80s, a Fifth World of ethno-electronic sound. This is definitely an album of such excellence to be able to trumpet a new revolution in sound.
- John Bush (Allmusic Guide)