Mike Paradinas is yet another one of those wacky electronic artists that records under about 5 different names and puts out a buttload of music. In 1997, he sprang out of the gates with his first real foray into the area of drill and bass (or drum and daze or whatever you prefer to call it) with his hit-or-miss Urmur Bile Tracks Volume 1 and 2. While the disc showed quite a few signs of promise (and quite a bit of change from his former releases), I really didn't expect another full-length release in the same year, let alone one as solid as Lunatic Harness.
While Squarepusher added elements of jazz to his compositions on Hard Normal Daddy and Aphex Twin added his signature weirdness to his Richard D James album during the same year, Paradinas used a deft touch and released what I feel is the best of all three in Lunatic Harness. It starts out with the brilliant "Brace Yourself Jason" (remixes of which would fuel a later EP by nearly the same name) and never really slows down at all. Light sounds fuel the tracks "Hasty Boom Alert," "Mushroom Compost," and "Blainville" before a beatbox session kicks off the beginning of the title track for the disc.
Things get considerably harsher during "Approaching Menace" as the beats turn caustic, but then let up on the very next track during the almost cheesy, "My Little Beautiful." During a the two-part "Secret Stair," strings are added to the mix of manic snares and have very much the same effect as they do in Aphex Twins classic "Girl/Boy" song. The only track that really stands out as not belonging on the disc is the tenth track entitled, "Wannabe," but even it's sense of humour almost makes up for things. It's super-slow grinding and foreboding ambient, but takes a definite stab at the Spice Girls hit track, even containing the muffled words, "Wanna be your lover baby, I don't want to be your friend." It sticks out as kind of a sore thumb, but the final three tracks on the disc take off where the others left off and more than really make up for the slow 7-minutes before them. Not only one of the best electronic albums of the year, one of the best albums of the year period. Smart, well put together and leaves you wanting more.