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.
Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato was composed in 1740, and musically it shares much with Messiah, from a couple of years later. It has been comparatively neglected because, in several ways, it does not hang together as well as the later work. Based on a pair of poems by John Milton, L'Allegro (The Joyful One) and Il Penseroso (The Thoughtful One), with a third middle-of-the-road type added by Messiah librettist Charles Jennens (whom one satirist dubbed "Il Moderatissimo"), the work has been called an oratorio, a semi-oratorio, a pastoral ode, and more. It has no plot to speak of, and Handel kept revising the work to suit new performance demands, with the result that its performance tradition has accumulated a large number of random arias. This performance by conductor Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Consort & Players represents an attempt to reconstruct what Handel intended for the original performance, and far from being an exercise, this results in a concise work with a persuasive alternation of big, Messiah-like choruses and arias that embody the qualities depicted in the poems. For those who love Messiah and have never heard this work, sample the opening chorus-and-bass number on CD 2, "Populous cities please me then," with its big musical spaces. McCreesh introduces each of the work's three sections with an instrumental concerto, something well attested to in the original sources, and he benefits from an exceptionally strong group of soloists who capture the moods essential to what logic the work has. Strongly recommended for anyone interested in going beyond the Handelian basics.