My last post seems to have dissapeared in the server move. So here goes: Abakus - That Much Closer to the Sun Liquid Sound Design Records Released: April 23, 2004 Tracklist: 1- Igmatic 2- Shared Light 3- Nightwalker 4- Circles 5- Magenta 6- A Whole New Way to Look at the Day 7- Indu 8- California Sunshine 9- Lux Boutique 10- Last Summer Dub 11- That Much Closer... 12- Opaque (Bonus Track) The name Abakus always catches my attention. I consider Russel Davies one of the kings of compilation. His contributions generally tend to outshine all others in my eyes. From California Sunshine on Youth in Dub, to the ingenious remixes on Wider Horizons, I've never come across an Abakus track I didn't love. Beats so chilled that they melt in your ears and psychadelia that immerses you completely. Not to mention his role as one half of Nada, a collaboration that certainly appeals to me for it's stunningly chilled vibes and intelligent beats. Naturally, this put me in a position to have high expectations for his debut album. "That Much Closer to the Sun" begins with Igmatic, a floating, airy track. The beat eases into the scene 0:50. All percussive instruments are textured and perfectly in a deep, soothing groove. Heavy delays and great atmosphere throughout the whole thing, driven by a rumbling bassline and energetic beat. This is music in a whirlwind, elements spinning about each other and ideas floating up out of the ground. Windy, blown instruments mark the closure of the track. Igmatic sets the stage for the rest of the album, immediately place a high standard of great chillout. Shared Light begins with a cheerful string of synthesis. It just so happens to fit the beautiful day outside perfectly. Positive and dubby, Shared Light breathes with a life of its own. This is aided by the samples of birdcalls and a little girl saying "Don't be afraid." A short, but agreeable track that is really more than meets the eye if you look at it as moving the album forward instead of by itself. Nightwalker really starts off marvelously. This track has soul! Bassline and beat, melody and madness... its all here. There is a delicious section bursting at the seams with funk around 2:30. This is when it really takes off. This track really deserves to be played cruising down a back road on a spring night in a convertible, I mean it. At 3:30, the track is back in full swing, leading me down paths of uncharted groove. Really fantastic track all-around. One of my favorites. Circles surprised me right off the bat with a straight 4/4 kick. Not the sort of pounding kick you find in psytrance but a more mellow, reflective one. It fits the track snugly, although I can't help but be a little turned off by the straight 4/4. Matter of personal taste really. There is some great rhythm behind the kick in the secondary percussion parts. Backlit melodies filter in and out that emphasize the pulse dictated by the kick. They wax and wane under the weight of their own filters. A subtle flute is the melodic center of a good portion of the track. Circles is a perfect name, as there is a circular structure that gives the track its own feel with respect to the rest of the album. Magenta starts in an icy cave, dripping and luminescent. Quickly you realize this cave isn't on Earth at all. As we get Closer to the Sun the ice begins to melt and a truly twisted, engrossing beat takes over. Fast-paced kick and snare work with a myriad of squelching delights in the exterior. Great psychadelic images can be found, if you look in the right places. This track captures a slightly bizzare, alien essence that is really unique. I would call this "Exploration Fantasy" over "Chillout," but that is a matter for the genre fiends! In fact, I would just plain call this track "Excellent" and be done with labels entirely. A Whole New Way to Look at the Day comes from down the way, with a vibe fashioned in some kind of spiritual oasis. It has a flute melody of such depth and emotion that haven't often found outside of Shpongle. Atmosphere on this track is multifaceted and shimmering. I feel weightless, helpless, fantastic. But who needs weight or help when you are floating through an oozing passage of colors and sounds? Splendid. Vibrant. I'd very much like to wake up with this track kicking off the day; it has that kind of serene relaxation. Indu is an edgy, forward-moving gem that strikes me as the kind of track that would drive a chillout venue crazy. It is just so invigorating that I am hardly able to resist putting my tea down and dancing. A chopped vocal beautifully lifts the thrashing beat into higher spaces. The down pitching of a bass note on the first beat of some measures rolls and pulses like a machine given life. Squirming, self-reflective, psychedelic soundscapes give focus to ideas lying underneath the surface. Fresh ideas abound! California Sunshine was my absolute favorite track from Youth in Dub. The bassline, the guitar, the sparse beat... I can't get enough of it. Closer to the Sun's is just as good, I assure you. I find this track to be a superb delight to listen to. It is chocked full of emotion, brilliant melodies and great production. The vocals have a kind of intrinsic sadness to them that balances the scale of musical yin/yang to a point where I can't help but just close my eyes and be swept away. The reawakening at 4:10 is pure bliss. At 5:30, the guitar again takes the stage and finishes off a brilliant track in a tasteful and pleasing way. Lux Boutique is an electro joy. Bleeps, glorps and shponks are the sounds of the day in this track. The main bass/snare beat is downplayed, giving space for the electro-rhythm to work its magic. This is music for a mood elevator, going up. Great vocoder work, excellently manipulated. Sadly, it stops before getting the top floor. In that respect, it works brilliantly as an avenue into Last Summer Dub. Last Summer Dub is a Drum Druid track remixed by Abakus, first heard on LSD's Wider Horizons. Starts off funky and certainly doesn't disappoint. Percussion is of the sort that is relatively simple, but undeniably well done. Works perfectly with the bassline to keep this track moving forward. All sorts of subtle synth approaches and withdraws give great substance to the track. Vocal sample is perfectly integrated, subtle but defined. This is the kind of track that lies on that sublime border between chillout, dub and dance. Great remix overall. There are several differences from the Wider Horizons version, all of which are still true to the spirit of the original while giving it a touch of Davies' remixing delight. "That Much Closer..." has a warm, vintage feel served with forward-thinking electronic spice. Great bassline, moves from note to note effortlessly and with a great deal of groove! Percussion work is flawless, as usual. Every sort of juicy fill and flam, roll and rhythm you could think of. This track is a certifiable groover; I can barely keep still to write this review. Opaque is a bonus track that begins fluidly, dotted with spoken samples. Filter work on the synths is all over the place, giving off a great psychedelic vibe. The beat glues together all flavors of synthesis magic. There is a guitar part that is infrequent but powerful. At 4:00, an abrasive synth melody reminds you this isn't your standard chill-out fair. You best keep on your toes! Opaque begins to spin down upon itself, which serves as a great ending to a great album. "That Much Closer to the Sun" is a refreshing blend of styles and ideas from Russel Davies. Each track has its own unique feel and environment that keeps your attention and demands the senses. The varied ideas and gripping beats found inside are sure to capture the mind of listeners and attention of chillout enthusiasts and DJs around the globe.