"Busy, Curious Thirsty is a harsher, more abrasive followup to 68 Million Shades. That album is still highly accessible and maintains some of the best examples of a cool, smooth drum 'n' bass that I keep returning to. Busy, on the other hand, sometimes falls into traps that make it shorter on replay value. For one, the sheer repetition of clangy beats on some tracks just gets tired, especially when there's very little around the beats to make it interesting for more than a couple of minutes. The album is heavier and more industrial than anything the duo had done before. More melody than a Photek, but still gritty. At times it comes off as eerie, particularly Bells. Some tracks have taken a long time to grow on me, however, others lack the structure that made 68 Million Shades such a great accomplishment. But don't blame Spring Heel Jack. They have done so much with d 'n' b that by the time someone like Madonna decided to incorporate "electronica" into her albums it was already a section at Tower Records. They've been busy, following up with two more studio offerings, an oddities disc, the Masses and Amassed projects, and a live album worth of material that makes 68 Million and certainly its predecessor, There Are Strings, seem like ages ago. Definitely worth checking out the evolution of this duo."
File under "jungle-industrial"
FlangeMechanism | 02/05/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Every large family has its problem child. In the case of Spring Heel Jack's seven LPs, it's this one, which despite more-or-less bridging the huge stylistic gap between 68 Million Shades and Treader is just a seriously queer duck.
The image of that wheel or gear or sprocket or whatever on BCT's sleeve is a perfect summation for the album's sound. Imagine feeling that with your hand, how smooth and cold and unforgivingly hard it would be. And yet the image also looks curiously like a huge explosion in space.
68 Million Shades was heavier than its own predecessor, There Are Strings, but BCT takes the bass and beats to the absolute limit; they're huge and junky and will make your houseplants dance off the shelves and chase your cat away if you play them even at normal volume. Whenever I go to the store to test and compare audio equipment, it's this CD I bring; a system that can handle "Bank of America" or "Happy Baby" at high volume and make it sound crisp can handle anything. The samples, meanwhile, are as hyper-metallic as the cover implies, abstract and droning, crunchy and crashing, atonal and repetitive, but also intermingled with SHJ's trademark eerie strings and atmosphere. If the conveyor belts and robot arms and welders in a car factory came to life one night and held a rave, this CD is what they'd dance to.
"Bells," "Casino," "BoA," "Happy Baby," and "Fresh Kills Landfill" are all high-octane hybrids of industrial and jungle, bulky, muscular tracks that will give your speakers a serious workout. "Sirens" is similar in theme but softer and darker. "Hale Bopp" is a low-key breakbeat that's pleasantly atmospheric but never gets beyond halfway interesting. There are also two semi-ambient tracks: "Galapagos 3," which is about six minutes of this repetitive little burrowing sample that gradually accumulates strings and chimes and then suddenly explodes into a climax of wrenching strings, crazed dulcimer, and even more crazed organ, then trails off into a gorgeous, eerie mess of piano, rattle, percussion, and atmosphere; and "Bells 2," which is a reworking of the first track's ceramic bell and chime samples into what sounds like a hot, breezy afternoon on the edge of a marsh. The album ends nicely with "The Wrong Guide," which starts out sounding like the playful warm-up session of a synthesized symphony, then launches into a frenzied breakbeat with everything thrown into it but the kitchen sink. It not only connects neatly with "Is," but hints at the themes Coxon and Wales eventually brought to full life in Oddities and Masses.
I didn't really like this album when it first came out, but then at that point my techno collection, more by fortune than by design, consisted strictly of CDs by Orbital, Aphex Twin, and Spring Heel Jack, and now that I've heard so much more of what's out there I can keenly appreciate just how talented and untouchable those five artists are. For my money, this is the fifth of SHJ's albums to get (after 68MS, Treader, TAS, and Disappeared), but if you like industrial and/or jungle and think a combination would be interesting, then by all means, this is the album for you.
One final note: if you like this album (or maybe even if you don't), there are several stray tracks SHJ did around the same time which are very much worth tracking down: "Sunburst" (Bank of America's B-side), "Galapagos II" (released on a very good D'n'B collection called Breakbeat Science), and "Sweep" (part of Lo Recordings Volume 3: United Mutations)."
Jungle to sew by.
oldschoolgamer | 07/01/1998
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I actually enjoy this album more every time I hear it. I'm a dj, and it's refreshing to get some jungle that isn't full of of the typical dry digital tweakings.....it's almost lo-fi in comparison. I find this part of it very appealing. It's production is more straight forward and doesn't rely on a warp speed sampler to make up for any lack of creativity. While the beats can be a little light for this same reason, I'd recommend it...definitely in a class of it's own. Maybe domestic jungle?"
Symphonic d&b that pushes the edge
oldschoolgamer | Oakland, CA United States | 12/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"if you're into jump-up or hard step or if you love V records, etc, you probably won't like this. or you just might. following the dreamy environments of 68 Million Shades, SPJ goes deeper into structure and tone. these are some of the first 5-10 minute long d&b tracks that will keep you interested from 0:01 on. while some d&b records share ties to dub, hip-hop,and funk, the closest thing I can think of with B,C,T is Stravinsky and Shostakovich. For REAL... Re-occuring themes, multiple layers, and beats like a drill through your heart make this one of my favorite d&b albums of all time"