Thursday, May 31, 2007
Juno Reactor - Bible Of Dreams
There are possibly people out there in the real world who believe that techno consists simply of Moby, Orbital, or (even worse) Paul Oakenfold. Yet, amidst all of the generic cookie-cutter techno bands out there, there are a few that stand out that neither delve into single-loop inanity nor burrow into freakishly complex Aphex-Twinian compositions (not that it is a bad thing to experience every once in a while).
Granted, this is still "dance" music, yet it retains only the absolutely essential cliches. One of the greatest aspects Of "Bible Of Dream", and Juno Reactor in general, is the variation within an album: a diversity that manages to remain thematically connected throughout the songs. Each song features the basics: a steady drum beat and strong bass lines. The additional ornamentation is what makes each song unique. Two of the most atypical songs on the album, "Conga Fury" (featuring "Nelson Mandela's favorite traditional South African percussion act") and "God Is God" (featuring strange female vocals and religious samples), contain various instances of live tribal drumming and singing/chanting (which would be explored in greater depth in their later albums). Thankfully, it is still recognizable techno/trance, but it manages to evoke images other than a crowded dance floor or cityscape. A few other tracks, "Kaguya Hime" and "Children Of The Night", are much more synthetic and darker in nature, containing foreboding industrial-esque ambiences (the "Children Of The Night" track reminds me of the Front 242 "Off" album, though I do not know if that is a common sentiment or if it is just me) and sound effects. Finally, the two best songs, "Komit" and "High Energy Protons (Orion Mix)", are simply excellent trance-techno. "Komit", with it's phased string introduction, addictive bass line, extremely mobile synth leads, and breaks including chorused choirs, is quite simply one of the best electronic songs I have ever heard that is good for any listening occasion or mood. Period. "High Energy Protons" (a remix of one of their earlier singles) is also quite intriguing, though the updated remix, while improving upon the original song, paradoxically also reveals how dated the song is in comparison to how much the band had progressed since their original debut in 1993.
If you only buy one fast-paced techno album ever, buy this album. Or (worst-case scenario), if you only listen to one techno song in your entire lifetime (unlikely, but possible), listen to "Komit". It's that good. After all, they would later go on to create two more highly-regarded albums and score two Matrix movies, so they must have been doing something right.
P.S. Took a quick glance at the comments on the You Tube page for the Juno Reactor video: those people must be some of the most quarrelsome and kverulant people in the world. :)