Out of all the music deemed "trip-hop" that has come out in the past several years, I think that this release by Andrea Parker is one of the more experimental. Not only that, but it takes nearly a completely different approach to the music than does a lot of other stuff in the genre. Sure, there are beautiful female vocals that sort of link it with a lot of other things, but Parker has created a dark, claustrophobic and spooky album. It's like some weird sci-fi, blip and bass version of Beth Orton, but it's still damn sexy.
When I say blip and bass, I mean that this album is pretty much oozing with sound. Although many of the tracks also make use of strings (or at least synth strings), the basslines absolutely throb in most of the tracks and her other choice of sounds feels like it could have come from the sound effects reel of an old space film and even more sinister sounds from a creepy mad scientist laboratory.
The very first track on the album has nearly all of the above things in place and starts things out in a very solid manner. "The Unknown" starts the album rolling with a molasses-thick bassline that sounds like it could have been pilfered from Massive Attack while eeried little sounds plink along in the background and the chorus flourishes with nice stringed instrument. Parker also shows off her vocal talents with almost whispered parts that swell with the musical lifts. The strings continue on the very next track "Clutching At Straws," with the beginning of the track taking on a completely classical feel with harps and french horn. If it weren't for the low-end bass pulses and other weird noises that pop in as the track progresses, it would feel downright baroque.
With "Breaking The Code," the album finally gets a full dose of the truly unique compositions that the album has to offer. Again mixing the classical sounds of a harp with almost harsh electronic blurps, the track is weird hybrid that somehow manages to flow nicely with Parkers vocals (that range from clean and pretty to super-distorted). The weird sci-fi sounds continue on "In Two Minds" and the uber-dark "Melodius Thunk" before the lighter Kruder and Dorfmeister-esque sounds of "Elements Of Style."
Basically, if you're a fan of trip-hop music and don't think that the genre has had much of anything interesting to offer lately, you really owe it to yourself to check this release out. The musical craftsmanship is excellent (the album was also released in an instrumental version for those of you who don't like vocals) and I personally think that the vocals work quite well with the left-of-standard sounds. It's dark and seductive, and that's not the half of it.