While their Blue Lines album was one of the founding fathers of the trip-hop movement, this is the album that helped solidify their position as something vital. While its less visceral and doesn't quite carry the same weight that their more recent release Mezzanine does, it shows that the group has always been on top of their game in creating dark, throbbing tracks that are catchy as well.
Like their other albums, there are a lot of collaborations on the disc, and they start out on a big note with Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl. Driven by a huge undercurrent of pulsing bass and a wah-wah guitar, the song has a nice juxtaposition going on with the lighter vocals laid down over the mollasses-thick backing. Although Tricky later covered nearly the same song on his Maxinquaye album, the version of "Karmacoma" somehow seems a little more menacing on this release when vocal duties are traded off between the smoother 3D and the gravely-voiced Tricky. Things lighten up a bit on the fittingly titled third track "Three." This time, another female has vocal duties (Nicolette) and the song has almost a trancey flavor.
The fourth track may also be familiar to you if you've head Craig Armstrongs The Space Between Us. "Weather Storm" is not only a collaboration with Armstrong, but the instrumental track also appears on his aforementioned album minus some thick backup (imagine that). After going a bit of a reggae route on "Spying Glass," the group goes back to Thorn on vocal duties and it makes for one of the best songs on the album. With another super-low bass groove and some chimy highlights, the track perfectly compliments the beautiful vocals. 3D and Tricky trade off vocals duties again on "Eurochild" and the studio section of the album closes out with the instrumental "Heat Miser" that again pairs piano by Craig Armstrong with some beefed-up backing.
As mentioned above, this release isn't quite as dark as their newer material and with a live cover of a Doors song ("Light My Fire") tagged onto the end of the disc, it might throw a few people for a loop who bought their newest album first. Still, while it's a little lighter (a relative term, as the album still oozes with thick grooves), it's a great release from the group. If you've heard their material before or simply like well-constructed trip-hop, you're not going to go wrong on it.