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Freeland - Now and Them


Review: Jack Foley

ADAM Freeland has made a name for himself as both a prolific Dj and mixer (his most recent work included a makeover of the White Stripes' Seven Nation Army), but found his work behind the decks wasn't saying anything.

Hence, he formed Freeland, the band, much in the same way as David Holmes formed The Free Association. But whereas the latter turned to San Francisco in search of collaborators, Freeland takes in a bald drummer, a soul diva, and, more curiously, two crazy Chileans, who add some distinctive guitars.

The result is a gutsy firecracker of an album which has cult classic written all over it.

Now and Them is the type of dance-orientated album that encapsulates just about every musical genre, from techno to house, and from hip-hop to pop, as well as some breakbeat thrown in for good measure.

It is little wonder, then, to find that not everything hits as strongly as it might, but there is no getting away from the fact that the album has plenty to say and, as such, achieves one of its primary objectives.

Its take-no-prisoners attitude is laid out within the first few moments of opening track and current single, We Want Your Soul, which is described by the Dj himself as an unapologetic rant against 'the destructive side of consumer culture'.

As such, it contains plenty of pot-shots at America, while spewing lyrics such as 'we want your pills, your grass, your tits, your ass, your laughs, your balls, we want it all'.

Second track, Mind Killer, which was inspired by the line, 'Fear is the mind killer', from Dune, rates among the finest on the album, with its rocky guitars and sweeping beats and breaks, while the techno-laden Burn The Clock comes laden with forceful metallic guitars and a dream-like female vocal, which drifts in and out, lending it an atmospheric feel.

Big Wednesday begins as though it has been lifted from the Blade Runner soundtrack, with its Vangelis-inspired electronica, before easing into a mellow Aphex Twin-wannabe; while Supernatural Thing succeeds in bringing out the best in Alison David's soulful vocals, which evoke memories of Shirley Bassey's Bond theme, or her Propellerheads collaboration. The second half of the track, which speeds things up well, is particularly strong.

Of the less memorable moments, L.I.F.E. doesn't really do enough to prevent it from becoming tedious, while the final track, Nowism, which fuses elements of house with reggae, isn't strong enough to bring the album to the rousing finale it deserves.

But the mixture of styles throughout the album serves to ensure that no two tracks sound the same, thereby keeping the listener on their toes until the very end.

It mainly works to the album's advantage, but the downside is that it's difficult to categorize, making the less risk-taking unlikely to give it a whirl.

But for those in search of something a little more challenging, this is a suitably sophisticated debut that contains enough highlights to make it worth recommending.

 

Track listing:
1. We Want Your Soul
2. Mind Killer
3. Burn The Clock
4. Big Wednesday
5. Heel ‘n’ Toe
6. Physical World
7. Supernatural Thing
8. Reality 3-D
9. L.I.F.E
10. Nowism

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