Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Artificial Intelligence 2
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Special Interest, Pop
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Absolutely essential comp.!
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a collection of music from the period when electronic music really grabbed me. Before plugins and softsynths became the way of the world, these guys were making beautiful, soulful and quirky electronica with whatever synths and samplers they could dig up from garage sales, networks, and Essex music stores...
This compilation features the best lineup of electronic musicians ever captured on one disc (with one very notable exception) and every track is a gem.
Though electronic music has obviously moved on from where it was in 1994, these tracks represent a peak along the development of the genre. The tracks feature a freshness often lacking in today's DSP-saturated IDM, though anybody who's a fan of Warp or Mille Plateaux artists and has not heard this comp. should check it out with no delay."
The best single compilation of its period.
Agitprop | San Francisco, CA United States | 01/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah, it came out in 1994. . . but nothing has ever come after that touches it for pure sickness. This CD defines experimental slow techno/ambient music from that period. Best of all, the tracks still lay the hedz out. Put it on late-night and watch your friends stupify. Put simply, I wouldn't want to live in a world that hadn't produced this record. . ."
Much more listenable than the first one.
Angry Mofo | 09/06/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The second Artificial Intelligence compilation is much less historically important than the first. This final installment in the Artificial Intelligence series came out in 1994. By then, all of Warp's most important artists had already become famous. The key figures from the first Artificial Intelligence album had all released one or two full-length albums. Electronica in general had received much more attention. So this album wasn't as significant. Even the title shows it. Now Warp isn't trying to create another new sound, it's just showing "more" of the one it created earlier.
But even though volume eight isn't as historically important as volume one, it's a lot more fun to listen to. For one thing, almost all of the songs here have an upbeat, optimistic feel. There's less self-important brooding. It helps that the production is much better here. The percussion sounds much stronger. The keyboards don't sound so claustrophobic anymore. The album as a whole contains much less dissonance.
There's also much more variety in the line-up. Warp doesn't have so much to prove now, and it can afford to recruit more new artists, so its most famous names don't dominate this album as much as the first one. Aphex Twin and Richie Hawtin are completely absent. Autechre, B12 and Speedy J now only contribute one song each, instead of two. I don't really have anything against them, but they have a very specific, recognizable style. In such a compilation, it's good to include something different here and there. And there's a new big name, too - Global Communication shows up under the name Link.
As might be expected, Autechre's contribution is the most dissonant track on the album. "Chatter" displays the typical Autechre sound, a cold and mechanical layering of percussion and keyboard effects. The main problem with it is that it's so long. It takes two minutes of synthesized chirping bird noises to get to the beginning of the rhythm.
Actually, length is the main problem with the whole album. It's much longer than the first Artificial Intelligence compilation, although it also features just ten songs. But even though the songs are longer, they don't have that much more detail. They're still built on simple melodies. Often, the drums are supplemented only by drawn-out single notes.
But the production really is better than before, and makes this stuff a lot more listenable. For instance, Mark Franklin's "Release To The System" has a simple build-up of drums and those one-note keyboard waves. But the production makes those keyboards sound very pleasant and relaxing. And then, a woman's voice begins to repeat, "Beautiful...so beautiful. Strange...so strange," and it's even kind of affecting. Beautiful and strange: that's how electronica is supposed to sound, right?
Speedy J's "Symmetry" isn't far removed from "Fill 3" on the first compilation. It's also a soft track that emphasizes pretty keyboards instead of drums. But now, instead of just whooshing over and over, the keyboard sounds oscillate, and shimmer, and babble quietly. Similarly, "Scriptures" follows the usual B12 sound. The rhythms and musical phrases could have come from any track on the band's first album. But now the drums are sharper, the melodies are more full-bodied.
"Arcadian" by Global Communication is very danceable, which can't be said about anything on the first Artificial Intelligence album. It has a prominent, energetic house beat, with very pretty minimal keyboard phrases dispersed throughout. The strong clatter of the drums makes a nice contrast with the soft keyboards. It's invigorating, but at the same time slightly melancholy. Electronic music can be very good at creating this kind of feeling.
But the best track is "Parasight," by Black Dog (masquerading as Balil). Unlike their contribution to the first album, it has a very clean sound. The beat has a satisfying thump and doesn't grate or hiss. On top of it, they add droning, swirling layers of keyboards. The track has the vaguely Oriental sound that the band tried to use on their last album Spanners, but actually it's much more detailed and engaging than anything from that album. And it's more driving and danceable than just about anything they ever wrote. If you like this band, then you definitely need to buy this album, because "Parasight" isn't available anywhere else. Black Dog's albums are all out of print now anyway, but still it doesn't appear on any of them.
Of course, Warp's pretensions are even greater on this album than on the first one. Back then, they at least let their artists make a case for themselves. But this album doesn't have any liner notes aside from an unbelievably pompous essay. Here's an excerpt: "The electronic listening music of the Nineties is a prime example of an art form derived from and stimulated by countless influences. Partisan analyses of this music claim a baffling variety of prime sources (Detroit techno, New York electro and Chicago acid, Eno and Bowie, Cage and Reich, Gary Numan and Tangerine Dream) but this is beside the point. To claim ascendancy of one source over another is to deny the labyrinthine entwinements of culture: rooted in political history and the development of science and technology, yet tilting at the boundaries of society and language." To put it mildly, this is meaningless. Warp's techno was much less futuristic and avant-garde than it wanted to be, and the "baffling variety of prime sources" is actually not really all that diverse. If you listen to many of the early Warp albums without reading all this hyperbolic, verbose praise, they'll sound more dated than some of their more mainstream contemporaries.
And in fact, this album isn't a deathless musical masterpiece either. But almost all of the songs on it at least sound pleasant while they're playing. About half of them are memorable beyond that. And, of course, there's one good rarity. So, if you like any of Warp's music, this album is a worthy supplement for your diet."