Lamb
What Sound: Deluxe
Koch Records
2003
B-

one of the few survivors and true innovators of the trip-hop movement, Lamb returns here with the re-release of their third album. Placed on the two disc set is the original version of What Sound with a few alternate mixes and B-sides placed at the end of disc one. Additionally, the second disc contains two videos and two remixes of tracks released on Lamb and two from What Sound.


What Sound, itself, is Lamb’s most mature outing- little new or exciting is added to the mix that can’t be found in different forms on their previous two albums. Instead, the album works as a consolidation of strengths from earlier works. Louise Rhodes’ lyrical conceits have changed little: we are still dealing with her particular brand of confessional simplicity. What has changed, however, is the strength of her voice. Rhodes has obviously been making great strides towards a control- there is little to complain about here, as opposed to some of the more overwrought moments of Fear of Fours.


Take for example “Small.” Rhodes works within the beat, barely venturing above the surface. Her voice maintains a quiet intensity, with the smallest fluctuations taking on an immense significance. With this new found confidence, her voice sounds unworried- able to let loose when it needs to: “Sweet” and able to take the edge off when it isn’t: the aforementioned “Small.”


The other half of the group, Andy Barlow, is again at the top of his game. Most compositions are swirling masses of intense orchestration mixed once again with this signature drum ‘n’ bass lite rhythm programming. The standouts work much in the manner of past successes. “What Sound” mixes a string arrangement with a stop and start backing track which reminds of “Trans Fatty Acid.”


“Sweetheart” works a complex breakbeat into the mix with an incredibly dubby bassline providing a nice backend to the beat. It is classic Lamb with Rhodes taking simple lyrics and exploring each possible meaning.


But, this version of What Sound contains much more than the album proper. MJ Cole turns in a mix of “Gabriel” that sounds mostly phoned in, while Nellee Hooper mixes the same song to far great effect- using the same sort of techniques that made the Sneaker Pimps a one-hit wonder.


As for the second disc, once you actually get to the videos they turn out to be mostly still images put to music- hardly worth the price of admission. And to top it off, the menu is nearly impossible to navigate. Perhaps it’s my Windows Media Player problem- but, if it isn’t, then What Sound Deluxe barely reaches above the original album, which luckily is of high enough quality that any trip-hop fan should be happy to find the single disc for far less.


Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01
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