3CD, Wycombe Music, 2007
Truth is, I’m a bit stumped by this release. Three full-length CDs, by three bands that don’t really have much in common, packaged together for about the price of one album. Good value, you might say, but what’s the point? I’m not exactly sure. Concise start off with pleasant, if a little dated ambient, but quickly turn into dance-influenced electronic pop, in much the same vein as Madonna’s “Ray of Light” album. Very well produced – perhaps too well – but not my bag. Frankie fans, if such things still exist (outside Shoreditch), might enjoy the “Power of Love” cover, and the remix by EQT holds some promise, but loses its electro pump-and-grind in a wash of trancey house. X_Dynamics’ futuristic, glitchy take on “Insensate” is better.
X_Dynamics also include another mix of “Insensate” on their own disc, and these two tracks are one of the few overt links between the bands. This version is completely different – an upbeat and sexy workout in the style of SebastiAn which is everything the “Power of Love” remix hoped to be. X_Dynamics also share the glossy, pixel-perfect over-production with Concise, but on their laid-back post-techno it seems slightly less glaring. And it is still basically pop. It all bubbles along pleasantly, changing pace often enough with no real surprises, but an occasional tendency to go a bit housey. “Rapid Rabbit” (wink wink, nudge nudge) has some lovely beats and a filmic quality that almost sounds like a twenty-first century echo of Vangelis’ “Bladerunner” themes. At the other end of the scale is the terrifying “Jammin Denim” which sounds like an irony-free cross between 70s porn movie funk and the instrumental music that used to accompany the test-card breaks between late-night educational programmes on 80s television. Say no more.
So far, so commercial. Flaque change the mood a little, opening “Alive” with a dreamy montage of field recordings that segues into a warm cocoon of gentle beats and atmospheres. It’s not all opiated ambience; “Northland” and “The Clouds and the Sun,” for example, are upbeat, complex electronica in a Haujobb/Architect vein. But by track nine (“Deceive”) we’re back in Concise-style dream-pop territory, and from here on the CD treads a pretty fine line between some rather nicely constructed beats and an overdose of ambient fluff. In fact, in retrospect the common thread connecting all three bands is that they all seem to think “sugar-coated cheese” isn’t a culinary abomination.
I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who will like the sound of this collection, but to me it’s all a bit too redolent of a local London producer who once gave me his ‘demo’ consisting of three professionally-produced full-length CDs in swanky packaging, with about four memorable tracks between them. The irony of a band called Concise being associated with such verbosity isn’t lost on me.
— Andrew Clegg