Chilled ambient grooves never die; they just twist out of their old skins and assume different shapes. Late-night techno wizards Sounds from the Ground are hip to this, and FOOTPRINTS retraces some of their best steps down the trail and through some pretty attractive landscapes before fading back out through the headphone exit door.
It's a collection of ageless classics from the SFTG's first two albums: KIN and TERRA FIRMA, as well as the hard-to-find version of "Snow," that has a soulful vocal from RedJen (alias Jennie B. from the Belle Stars and Pigface).Tracks date from 1996 through 2000, with highlights including the drum-and-bass workout "Planted" and the pulsing Roland 303's and whispered female vocals of "Drawn to the Woman." If Jaco Pastorious were alive and playing bass for Orbital it might sound something like "Where the Wild Things Were." This collection stands tall as classic bleep and beat architecture, furnished with lush synth pad washes, snaking counter-rhythms, and sputtering rhythmic blasts, all merging hypnotically together for slow-motion dancing, deep headphone hypnosis, or walking confidently through a crowd of well-dressed singles at the local lounge.
The emphasis is on ballads for harmonica player Toots Thielemans' outing with the Shirley Horn Trio. Horn, in addition to contributing some tastefully supportive piano and occasional solos, takes a vocal on "Someone to Watch Over Me." Toots sounds quite relaxed performing 11 standards (only "Blues in the Closet" generates much heat) plus his original "For My Lady" with such comfortable backing.
Back for round two, guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jan Hammer united for a collaboration once again -- 1982's Here to Stay -- barely a year after their debut appeared. Like the debut (1981's Untold Passion), the album is a combination of both player's prog, fusion, and rock backgrounds -- although a short songwriting leash prevents most of the tracks from stretching past the four-minute mark. The duo were obviously aiming for the top of the charts with the album-opener (whose accompanying video was quite popular during the early days of MTV), "No More Lies," which sounds like a song tailor-made for Pat Benatar. Elsewhere, Hammer gets to spread his wings on "Time Again," while Schon shows off his hard rocking side with the Zeppelin-esque "Turnaround." Like Untold Passion, Here to Stay was a moderate chart success. But despite its bold title, the album would prove to be the last Schon/Hammer collaboration.