Don't be fooled by the evil grin on Mr James's face on the cover of this CD; the `Richard D James' album is alive with mischievous melody, warmth and nostalgia.
Sure, the accustomed manic, machine-gun beats, pulsating programming and breakneck changes of pace are very much in evidence, but behind this front are some truly lovely synth washes, strings and melodic threads which dance merrily in and out of the maelstrom of sound.
The whole record, although barely over half an hour long, is packed with variety. Just when you think you have got the measure of the thing with the first four tracks James pulversises you with intense beats at the end of `Corn Mouth'. This is brilliantly followed up with the spooky child-like vocal samples on `To.Kill A Weakling Child' which are buried in sound as the track progresses. Then comes arguably the most remarkable track on the record and the only beat-free one,`Goon Gumpas', whose gorgeous string and synth melody unexpectedly conjures up images of pastoral bliss.
`Girl/Boy Song' is perhaps the highlight of the album, though, combining in its melody and rhythm all that has gone so well before. The album's longest track, it builds superbly to a brilliantly melodic climax.
This is hardly restful music but is constantly challenging and enjoyable. The nostalgic atmosphere (I swear there are some ZX Spectrum loader sounds on at least two tracks) is so different to label mates Boards of Canada but no less potent. A remarkable achievement.