A new Eat Static album is a bit of a big deal in anyone’s language. But while I love them as an act, I can’t help thinking that this album screams the words “missed potential.”
The opening track Invasion is a nice, measured intro with some nice melodic touches sitting alongside an evolving breakbeat. As per usual for an Eat Static track, it’s littered with samples from 50s B-Movies about UFO’s, alien crashlandings, and governments denying knowledge.
Eat Static have, of course, been doing this for years and I have to confess to finding it sort of silly now. A bit like a mate who’s still banging on about the Roswell VHS he bought in 1998 after seeing an advert in the back of the Fortean Times. Or a mate who just finished re-watching all episodes of the X-Files on DVD and is bending your ear off at a party about how it wasn’t axed because it got too silly, it got axed because it got too close to the “truth”.
Meanwhile Sucker Unit plays with acid house, glitch and psychedelic techno. Yet it somehow lacks sincerity; it sounds very much like an act trying to sound like themselves.
Eat Static’s strength has always been the fusion of analogue and digital. You’ve got Joie going bonkers on the analogue kit, and Merv penning it in and manipulating it digitally. And when this works, it’s still wonderful: the morphing, shifting Trantaloid is wonderful. It escalates perfectly, it’s got a great balance between creepy and shitkicking, and the UFO samples are used sparingly.
Deadly Amphibian is another example of what Eat Static are really about. If you strip away the Roswell, you’ve got an actthat is and has always been experimental, genre-defying, brave. The track is scatty and scratchy yet fluid and overwhelmingly danceable.
This solidly individual Eat Static goes out the window with Sin-Quest. The idea of them doing straight-out psytrance isn’t a bad one, but the execution of it is disappointing. It’s as though the 16th bassline is restricting their movement, forcing them to push the sound rather than to let it develop in and of itself. The result is a track that has some interesting moments, but only moments: the majority of it is either disappointing, puzzling, or a complete din.
Tractor Beam takes us back to more interesting territory; it’s that blend of jungle, trance and funk that they explored on In The Nude. It acts as a nice shot in the arm before the breathy Pachama, a sort of dubstep-chillout track that gathers moodiness as it goes along, ending up in a clattering bit of glitch-hop that one sort of imagines Grandmaster Flash getting quite excited about.
Visitors has a nice sound to it, an oldskool Goa presence. It’s nice, but you get the impression that their heart’s not into it – there’s very little dynamic energy here to get excited about. Luckily the final two tracks are a bit special: Brassneck is way up there with their very best output: pacey techno with a genuine transportive vibe and more changes than you can shake a stick at; and De-Classified, a starry-eyed bit of beautifully melodic and effortless downtempo.
This isn’t a bad album. If you look at it as a crossover between an Eat Static album and a Psychedelic Trance album then it’s actually pretty decent, and in any event if you program six of these ten tracks you’ve got a solid half-album to listen to.
De-Classified has most of the elements that you’d associate with Eat Static’s music. The one element that for the most part it lacks, is soul.