Spring Heel Jack - Busy Curious Thirsty
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Spring Heel Jack
Busy Curious Thirsty
(Island / Trade 2 / Island)

After their solid debut release, 68 Million Shades... the duo of John Coxon and Ashley Wales followed up with this harder hitting drum and bass affair. Whereas their first disc dabbled in string sounds and softer progressions, Busy Curious Thirsty finds them banging away a lot more and flat out kicking it, as well as having a bit of fun and opening up the door to experimentation a bit.

The album wastes no time in getting down to business, either. The first cut on the album, "Bells," smokes out of the gate with a rather harse beat and some of that distorted, blistering sounding horn work. Luckily, there are a few spots in the track where it drops off into more of a peaceful interlude, but just about the time you think that you're going to get lulled, it leaps off again. The group doesn't let up for the next two tracks, either. "Casino" is another super hard-hitting track with all kinds of cheeseball 70's cop-show soundtrack type-stuff thrown in for good measure while "Bank Of America" keeps the tempo upped as possibly the most abrasive track the duo has released. With a huge blast of cold-sounding bass and all kinds of drum madness, the haunting waves that float through the song surface only enough to give you a short breather (like the first track on the disc) before Coxon and Wales drop the sonic boom again.

Wisely, the album calms down a lot on the next track, and the duo drops off into an ambient track called "Galapagos 3" that's probably a different version of the remix they did for Tortoise on their Remixed disc. The nearly ten-minute track samples a very minimal percussion line from the group and turns it into a quiet, meditative track until the messy orchestral mindjob it turns into near the end. Thinking it's been enough of a break, the album then takes off again straightaway for 3 more harder-hitting tracks (including the somewhat cornball "Happy Baby") before they follow up with another more abstract number (fittingly titled "Bells 2") and another track that absolutely kicks in "Fresh Kills Landfill." It's another track with that absolutely dry, almost metallic bass pound that the group is so good at.

It's the album closer "The Wrong Guide," though, that is perhaps just the best track on the release. After starting out with some live instrument sounds like simple drums and some flatulating horns, the group slowly builds an ominous sound until things start kicking with a smooth little snare rush. Eventually, the whole track drops of into a magnificent fury of live and electronic sounds and is nearly the perfect blend of the two. Overall, it's another very solid album from the group and it's an awesome release for those who enjoy some seriously slamming drum and bass (fans of Photek's Form And Function might do themselves a favor and check it). The nice thing about it is that it even gives you a break once in awhile with an ambient or more experimental track, so the album doesn't just seem like one big homongenous ball of drum and bass. Note: the domestic version of this release seems to be out-of-print, but it can still be found in used stores and as an import (linked above).

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00