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More Damn Trip-Hop Shiznitz


I first heard of Baxter about 2 years ago, except it didn't really register with me much at the time. All I heard was some snippet about how vocalist Nina Ramsby of Salt had left the band (or they split up or something) and joined up with a couple electronic musicians to form a new band. I didn't remember the name of the band and even though the track they played was pretty cool, I completely forgot about the group until nearly a year and a half later when I saw an article on the group again in a music magazine. My interest was piqued, but yet again I forgot about them for awhile. Finally, the other day I saw their disc at the music store and finally decided to pick it up and check it out. Although Salt wasn't exactly a favorite band of mine, they did have a couple nifty tracks and Ramsby's vocals were definitely an expressive part of the equation.

When the first few notes of the disc played, I gathered that it would be another average trip-hop release along the lines of Hooverphonic's Blue Wonder Power Milk, but soon frenetic breakbeats kicked in and dispelled my thoughts clean away. I skipped to the next track and nearly the same thing happened. "Feeling" started out with a bit of distorted radio-jingle sample, a nice piano, and some soft vocals by Ramsby. Soon, though, I could hear the ticky-ticky-tick of some drums in the background, biding their time for the moment before being set loose again. By the midway point of the track, the vocals had turned into a snide imitation of the originals and their were even some guitar chops layed down over the top.

The third track "Love Again" goes a little more of the standard trip-hop route with a slower, thick funky beat and some stringed instruments, but things again go back to the wicked snares after the orchestrated intro of "I Can't See Why." Although none of the tracks on the disc stood out as hugely memorable, every single one of them was much better-than-average. Not only are the beats and instrumentation amazingly produced and put together, but Nina Ramsby's vocals fit even better into the electronic surroundings than they did with the riffage of her former alterna-band Salt. The sound reminded me somewhat of Lamb, but the beats were much more calculated and flowed into the tracks better instead of being harsh juxtapositions. I kept expecting for a clunker song to rear its ugly head, but I didn't hit the skip button once during the course of the disc. Perhaps that's the best vote of confidence right there.

Rating: 7.5