Top positive review
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Fragile State's 2nd and BEST album
on 22 January 2004
Laaaydieeees aaaand Gentlemen, I give you the first contender for album of the year 2004.
Every so often an album comes along that becomes your friend, travelling with you, keeping you company when you are alone.It acts as a pick-me-up, comforter and all round escape from the world. For me just such an album was/is Fragile States first LP "The Facts and the Dreams"It is not that often albums like these come along, and as a result we treasure them. I'm sure you have one or more you can think of that do it for you in this way.
Now it is very rare to have more than one album by the same artist that falls into the "album-as-friend"; mode (Actually all of Björk's solo albums fall into the category for me, but they do say love is blind!). So it is especially pleasing for me to say that ";Voices from the Dust Bowl"; has all of the signs that my friendship with it will be long and enjoyable. So excuse me while I am more than a little effusive
"Voices.." is EVEN BETTER that Fragile States first outing, and, by now you should be guessing that for me that says a lot about the quality of this album. My first hearing was in a somewhat noisy room, and my initial impression was "Mmm nice"; and that was all. However it is after some intense further listening via headphones that this album has totally blown me away. Not that ";Voices.." is particularly and intimate album, in fact it is much more broad sweeping and cinematic than The Facts and the Dreams.
"four-four-four" the first track is awesome, it sounds like the Dr Who theme meets Star Trek theme meets Zero 7 meets John Barry meets Deep Forest. It is an uplifting track high on emotion that amazingly at 8 minutes feels too short, and leaves you wanting more. I love it.
Much as all previous releases by Fragile State the beautiful jazz tinged compositions and real musicianship shine through. "New Bassa" is another intense broad sweeping track that can lift you up and gently drop you into to somewhere rather special. The breakdown is a particular tingler, making the hairs on my arms stand up. "600 bliss" has the trademark Fragile State twinkley Rhodes riffing over some deep string washes allowing the "bliss" to come center stage.
"At last" has breathy flute samples and driving beats that conjures up someone freefalling or maybe swimming underwater, unfettered by heavy gravity and bulky breathing equipment. Prepare to hear this one over scenes from countless holiday TV programmes. "Overcurrent" explores and revisits "Undercurrent" from the Facts and the Dreams album, reminding me how good that record was."Train time" is a dream-like and ethereal choral infused number, with the choir sounding like Cocteau Twin Liz Fraser - beautiful but what are they saying? When its this good who cares?
Closer "Paper tiger" starts off easy enough, but then gets Fragile State in a bugged out yet delicately executed cavort, with buzzy electric guitar, rolling bassline, crashing cymbals, yet finishing in a nicely spaced out ambient ooze.
"Voices from the Dust Bowl" is an album to turn to again and again.It has all the classic chill out ingredients, but with extra sparkle, warmth and depth which should see it become a mini classic and hopefully get the band into the same status as Zero 7, Lemon Jelly and Bent. I won't accept anything less.
Contrary to popular belief, having "Voices.." in your head is a beautiful experience.