Mysteries Of Funk

Given the ever-mutating, Zeitgeist-chasing beast that is drum'n'bass, Grooverider represents something of a minor miracle....

GIVEN THE EVER-MUTATING, ZEITGEIST-chasing beast that is drum'n'bass, Grooverider represents something of a minor miracle. He's been underground (DJing at Rave and damn near inventing drum'n'bass), he's gone overground (hosting the Metalheadz club, and his blinding Radio 1 show with Fabio) and in this way he keeps changing, keeps moving and generally maintains the respect that's so transient in junglist circles. Hell, the man is seminal.

Hence, when it comes to the acid test of his first album proper - y'know, songs he, like, made up himself - it's guaranteed that both critics and competitors will be checking out whether he can cut the musical mustard.

So can he? Well, kind of. Given Grooverider's 12-year track record, one might expect the future sound of drum'n'bass served up on a vinyl platter. What one gets is nigh on two bloody hours of sci-fi samples, Miles Davis trumpets, Sun Ra astro-babble and jazz-funk rhythms, all draped over a backbone of trademark breakbeats. Hello Goldie, if you're watching.

Unfortunately, the best part of these two hours could have been consigned to the bin marked 'Um, Heard It Before Actually'. Epic soundtrack or not, nicking bits of an old Star Trek episode and slapping on a spooky brass section doth not the future make. Case in point: the loopy beats and breaks of 'Rainbows Of Colour' and 'Time & Space' might attack the feet but when the brain is thinking, 'Isn't this the Blade Runner soundtrack on 78rpm?', there's something wrong - and that's wrong for two solid hours.

That's not to say it doesn't rock. 'Where's Jack The Ripper?' is a clunking, parping slab of techno jump-up reminiscent of engineering partner Optical while 'Starbase 23' updates industrial music for the junglist set, all factory machines and battling robots.

Elsewhere, Latin rhythms add a previously unheard of ingredient to the pot yet the whole thing consistently sounds overlong and, well, tame. Whether that's Grooverider trying to get all epic on our asses or - whisper it - that he's not got the skills to truly deliver, who knows?

The main point is he's made exactly the same mistake as his peers - delivered a double album where he should've stuck to a single, and in the process, gone caught up in his own self-importance. The jury's still out on whether Messrs Goldie and - to a lesser extent - Size can curb their more pretentious leanings. Mr Grooverider? Take your place in the dock.
6 / 10

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