Monday, 2 January 2012
Review: Xplore - 44 Light Years
I've been meaning to buy Xplore's album 44 Light Years pretty much since it came out, which was the second week of 2011. In the end I finally got round to buying it on the 31st December 2011, for the train journey down to Godskitchen's NYE party. Back in January I was a poor man, you see, and waiting for it to come down in price from Beatport Exclusive status was worthwhile frugality. Then Beatport actually put the price up, and I forgot about it, and if I hadn't been trawling through my enormous Hold Bin I might have forgotten it existed altogether.
I didn't, though, and pleasingly so, because 44 Light Years is pretty good. Not special, not classic, but an extremely solid album. I wouldn't even call this progressive personally. My gripes about prog not being prog anymore are well documented, but even by the standards of 2011, I think there's a strong case that this is simply what I would call "spacey house". No, that's not a genre. It's just a description. There are a few beautiful sparkly melodic tracks in here that have solid, funky grooves underneath them. Not too funky, but house in the 21st Century isn't very funky anymore, unless it's actually just 4 bars of a disco track looped out for 6 minutes.
As with a lot of dance albums I've been reviewing, it does occasionally feel more like a bunch of club tracks thrown into one release than an essential one-shot listening experience, especially when you get three mixes of Emerald Amulet in a row. With that said, the intro track Ancient Artefact is an appropriate intro, starting with some pattering breaks and not kicking off into a house beat for several minutes. And the closing few tracks do feel more uptempo and driving, the tempo picking up and the basslines getting harder. The closer Awakening is also a suitably uplifting melodic send-off track as well, so there's definitely been thought put into the sequencing here and overall it flows pretty well. The only problem is you spend about 10 minutes, or an 8th of the album, listening to bare kick drums of DJ-friendly intro/outros, which bogs down the listening experience. A lot of producers generously combat this problem these days by including full DJ mixes of their albums as a bonus track, but not here.
To summarise, this is a nice album, and for DJing purposes I will get much use out of it, but I just don't find myself listening to this kind of album very often, and the exclusion of the full DJ-mix option prevents it from going up in my estimations.
Genre: Spacey house
Stupid Arbitrary Rating: 7/10