It has been a while since the last ADR album – I reviewed the gloriously chaotic mash-up of styles that was The Giants From Far Away a couple of months short of three years ago now, and have been looking forward to new material for some time.
So when a new album got announced earlier in the year, and snippets appeared online, it certainly sounded really promising – including at least two absolutely storming tracks that took ADR beyond their previous work. Since then, however, things have changed somewhat, and the mooted album has been split into two albums (apparently due within six months of each other).
Having thought about this to some degree, I think this might just make sense. The original mix of the album was, to a point, all over the place, taking in countless different dance and electronic music styles and gleefully blurring any notion of boundaries, and any expectation of what they should and shouldn’t be doing. This kind of hyperactivity is really quite refreshing. After all, it results in albums where you don’t know what to expect next, where you aren’t going to get ten tracks of exactly the same beat (but with different samples), and most of all where I’m not going to turn it off halfway through.
Like previous albums, things open with an intro track – involving a bizarre recording of a conversation with a dog (with odd food preferences) and a silent phone call, before the beats break loose, but the first real thing of note is the manic pace of Really – a pretty-much straight-batted electro track that turns on the turbo and simply gets faster as it goes along. It Speaks is more like the ADR delivered last time – a loose-limbed, funky-as-fuck beat, with frankly quite odd treated vocals that are…well, I’m not sure what the fuck they are on about, actually.
Boozetooth is the first sign of things changing somewhat. More funky electro, yes, however it is topped off by a quite wonderfully melodic vocal that fits the sound perfectly. This isn’t the first time ADR have used vocals of course – most notably on the title track of State of Ruin – but there is none of the furious snarl, and much for the better, as it happens.
Lady Jamz, in its two parts, is a little bit of throwaway fun to start with. A bizarre recorded skit between a man and a woman in a bar, followed by some strange, slowed-down and treated-to-hell RnB, or something like that, before the track proper unleashes a chaotic, ultra-fast beat that walks the tightrope between noise and melody very well indeed – especially the awesome synth line that pretty much acts as an instrumental chorus. Could be a bit too fast-paced for the dancefloor, but it’ll be fun trying…
The real killer tracks here follow this, though. First up is You Owe Me Blood, a track I put in my tracks of the month roundup at the end of June (and one of the two tracks I referred to at the beginning – the other will be on the companion release in a few months). My opinions on this haven’t changed – this is still a monster of a track that effortlessly manages to mash-up breakbeats, quasi-dubstep and some pretty fucking heavy techno, and in some feat it’s six-minute-plus length feels too short as it flies by.
Ghosts is the other killer, and for very different reasons. This is ADR striking out in a way I could never have expected – into glittering, melodic synthpop. It is a quite wonderful track, and amongst other things shows the astonishing confidence this band clearly now have: after all, how many other bands nominally lumped in with noise artists would even dare try this, not least pull it off so well.
The last couple of tracks head back towards more expected ADR territory. The Bread Snake of Lamb’s Lion didn’t grab me a great deal, although I do like the punk-esque gang vocal refrain, and the tilt into what sounds like a full band, guitars and all, in the closing minute, is a great little trick. The last track, Snake Oil Salesman, is more electro-funk, with (deliberately?) jarring bleeps and wheezes elbowing their way in, and again more vocals…and once again morphs halfway, this time into a quite great electro-rock track, for the chorus.
Those last few tracks encapsulate why I like ADR so much. Entirely unafraid to fuck with peoples perception of them, to try out new ideas and see what sticks, but more importantly what they have done now is to banish fully any hope of ever pigeonholing them again. Yeah, so not everything works perfectly here, but it is enormous fun. And I can’t help wondering that this whole album will make even more sense when we hear the second release.
In the meantime, though, if you want an electronic album that will challenge you, and take you away from preconcieved notions of industrial, electro or whatever you were expecting, try this one for size.