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The album itself kicks off with the powerful original version of "Just be", a remixed version of which appeared on Tiesto's second album of the same name and saw a single release last year. Produced by the legendary Jimmy Gomez (aka James Wiltshire), the producer responsible for remixing to perfection many a bona fide club classic (see "Last Rhythm", "Careful" - Horse, "Looking at you" - Sunscreem), Gomez' production is invariably a polished affair which is accentuated by Hawkshaw's soul searching vocals. The track itself is highly poignant and was co-written by '70s songstress Judie Tzuke, who also wrote the track "Dreaming", which was released in 2000 by BT featuring Kirsty Hawkshaw. She was also responsible for Lucid's downtempo mini classic "Stay with me till dawn".
The next track is a truly hypnotic remix of 1992's "Fine day". The track has been remade by the prodigal James Holden, whose remix is nothing short of breathtaking - arguably his strongest work to date aside from his own production "Nothing" which was released in 2003. You may also be pleased to hear that Holden's remix is featured in full length format
Third up is Kirsty's new single "Reach for me". Composed by, of all people, Jamie Cullum, it is a surprise to learn that this is the first single to be cultivated from the album. A poppy, upbeat number which may be a tad too Avril Lavigne for some ears, "Reach for me" is nonetheless a quality pop song which should paint a smile on your face
The fourth track is "Nature's garden", a collaboration with introspective electronic folk types Delerium, most noted in the UK for their earth shattering Top 3 single "Silence", remixed by Tiesto and sung by Sarah McLachlan. "Nature's garden" is a lilting number to which Kirsty's vocals are entirely suited. The only thing that does detract from this classy pseudo ambient is the apparent inanity of the lyrics, of which i'm entirely unable to make snse.
Next up is the hugely infectious "Walking on clouds". Produced by Tiesto and Josh Gabriel of Gabriel & Dresden fame, "Walking on clouds", it takes a good few listens to be able to appreciate the awe inspiring production, which, when paired with Kirsty's vocal performance, make for a truly anthemic track. Sounding not too dissimilar from the output of Gabriel's other project, Andain, it is a surprise to learn that this song was not picked for single release by Kirsty or by Tiesto, upon whose album it also appears. Again, featured in full length format as opposed to a radio edit
"Battleship grey" is track 6, the cimenatic masterpiece as featured on Tiesto's 2002 debut opus "In my memory". A truly inventive, atmospheric number, "Battleship grey" marks one of Tiesto's finest productions to date
Next up is the much lauded and very recent Lange collaboration "Sincere for you". Executed in Lange's own inimitable, powerhouse, epic, euphoric style, "Sincere for you" is comparable in terms of sheer brilliance to Lange's signature production "Follow me", which was a massive hit back in 2000
"Blackout", the eighth track is possibly the weakest on the album. I was eagerly awaiting Kirsty's collaboration with Welsh breaks pioneers Hybrid, and the result does in fact disappoint (if only slightly). Perhaps this is Hybrid's fault for producing too many cutting edge and truly revelatory tracks, (see "Finished symphony") - subsequent productions will always be judged by such a benchmark. "Blackout" smacks of some of the weaker tracks from "Wide angle", and I do believe that Kirsty was the wrong vocalist for this tracks. Perhaps Julee Cruise would be more suited to this style of singing. Anyway, moving on
"Split" is a colloboration with another legend - Mr Sam - responsible for many an anthemic remake. Contrary to expectations, "Split" is actually an ever so delicate downtempo, even slightly trip hop affair and is truly one of the most memorable tracks on the second half of this album.
Track number 10, "All I want", is another collaboration with Hybrid, who really atone for the disappointment of "Blackout". A cinemtic masterpiece with all of the pomp and circumstance one would associate with a high quality Hybrid release a la "If I survive". Again featured in all of its full length glory, "All I want" is one of the highlights of "Meta-message" and the fact that it was again penned by Judy Tzuke only serves to heighten the brilliance of this electro-orchestral work of art
The next track is "Beautiful danger", which is quite a weak affair and, aside from "Blackout", is the most unjoyable track on the album
Nothing could have prepared me for track number 13 though, which, despite the fact that this is one of the best albums of recent times, eclipses all of the 12 songs. "Whisper" was produced by former Faithless bass guitarist Dave Randall aka Slovo and is, in fact, one of the most beautiful songs i've ever heard. Polished, tight production and yet so seemingly simplistic in style, "Whisper" really has to be heard to be believed. On the back of this track i'm now making a concerted effort to hunt down the Slovo album from which "Whisper" was culled, which does in fact feature further Kirsty collaborations.
My only other gripet about this album is that it is a little too short, I would personally love to have seen at four or five more tracks included, Kirsty has such an extensive and high quality back catalogue that there are in fact too many to choose from. Personally I would like to have seen the Miro remix of "Battleship grey" included instead of the original, further Slovo collaborations, perhaps a remix of "When you made the mountain", but one can only hope. All in all the best album of the year by a mile, comparable only to the Sarah McLachlan remix album "Bloom" currently doing the rounds, which does in fact feature collaborations with some of the producers on "Meta message" including Tiesto, Gabriel & Dresden, Hybrid, Delerium etc.
In fact the only negative note to bear in mind with reference to Meta Message is that most music shops will not even stock it!! The rest is just pure undiscovered & heartlifting genius! I cannot add much more than the previous reviewer (who summated matters superbly), suffice to say that if Hybrid, BT, Tiesto, Zero 7, & Delerium do it for you, then this CD is a MUST have in your collection. Little wonder (along with Jan Johntson) BT regularly flies our Kirsty abroad to record - reason why? Well no-one, repeat no-one quite captures the spirit of harmonic and melodic trance, dance, chill-out call it what you will than KH -she has the ability to turn an average song into a classic and her phraseology and range are literally jaw-dropping!
So, go on, impress your friends, buy this CD, play it and get lost in the undiscovered (after all these years!) genius that is Kirsty Hawkshaw! Brilliant and 10 years overdue!
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