Abakus - That Much Closer to the Sun


Pound Shop Alex Petridis
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what in tintern abbey are you talking about?
bit of an old one so sorry if it's been posted here already... if it has, i'm sure biggins will point it out :Smile3:

That Much Closer To The Sun

More utterly amazing chill out, this time from the UK’s Russell Davies, aka Abakus. What to say about this then, the album that stuck by me for so much of summer, like a faithful doggy? It’s one of those sun-drenched records… the stillness and beauty that’s gone into the production and movement in the tracks is uncommonly good, and the shimmering, lazy mastering adds to the dreamy, three-beers-at-lunch-now-I’ve-got-sunstroke haziness. That Much Closer To The Sun works incredibly well as an album, with samples from Easy Rider brought in on the first track, recurring throughout the album; a simple but effective trick that makes you aware of the thought that’s gone into this. Best when it’s in lazy break beat territory rather than 4-4, the changes and the attention to detail are gorgeous. Utter, utter highlight is Nightwalker, a serious contender for my track of the year -- smooth, easy beats wash under a smooth, delectable guitar line (which may or may not be an interpretation of the intro to Hendrix’s All Along The Watchtower), chord changes to die for, and a groove that puts on your face a smile that takes ages to shift. This is one of those rare albums that’s a classic whether or not you give two hoots about “psychedelic†music; an utter masterpiece, and just thinking about it makes me want to take the rest of today off and listen to it. Which I think I will.


Another nice review.

Great album. Really tight, delicate production.

Funny what you said about nightwalker, as I think its almost the opposite.
I liked it a first but nightwalker does my head in a bit now. Its that chord change. Works well with Jimmys sleazy guitar but there something that doesnt quite sit well with the lead patch and makes me gulp.

Aside from that, its wicked. :Wink3:
fair play man ... must admit i pick the time to listen to that track quite carefully... has all these golden hazy "on the way back from turaya" vibes so i don't want it to die form overkill... which i think it may have the potential to do.... if u see what i mean :Smile3:

but that key change makes it for me :cool:
As i said (totally off subject on another thread) this album is for 2004 what ott's bumcraft was for 2003.

'nuff said :smoke:
Great album! Funky, beautiful, love it! :Smile3:
I really love it, but I find that it sounds so much like itself that it's hard to DJ with... I dunno but it just doesn't make as much sense going into and out of other artists' music. It's better as an album, i reckon.

My favourite track is definitely the uptempo 'Circles', which positively DEMANDS to be turned right up to 11 every time it's played; why isn't there more music of that sort of tempo and mood? <sigh>

I'm also not a huge fan of Nightwalker, by the way.
Very nice chillout CD, thanks for the reviews as that's why I've bought it. After a couple of listenings, I really adore Track 6 (but I've heard that tune before - where? It's driving me nuts).
But I really can't stand Nightwalker - it's kind of 1960's cheesy lift-music-esqe in my head and the key change going up makes me cringe, it's so self-conciously uplifting. Sorry!
I wrote a review for this gem back when it came out so I suppose I'll copypaste it here:

Abakus - That Much Closer to the Sun
Liquid Sound Design Records
Released: April 23, 2004

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.