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Manchester Music Box

[a]Element[/a] may have big balls, but they're firing blanks.

Manchester Music Box

Steve Hellier, ex-Death In Vegas, and Andy Bell, a former assistant to "lesbian, techno-poet" Anne Clarke, have done their time on dance music's 'cerebral' fringes. Their new project, in contrast, is a primitive, elemental take on post-Social beatz.

Infrequently, the sheer power of it all makes your bowels shiver, but, more often, Element are gallingly obvious, mired in big-beat clichi. There are farting FX by the fistful, murky fulcrums of twisted noise, predictably applied rap samples, and, for much of the set, inner-ear-rattling acid squelches continually going round and round.

That the spectacle amounts to no more than two producer blokes pressing some buttons is irrelevant. It's all about the tunes and, despite the 'buzz' in London, a lot of Element's are raw, big-boned, ugly sons o' bitches.

The likes of 'X-Large', laced with sitar and all big-beat aesthetics/hard-house velocity, and 'Virgin', a headstrong Underworld-ish stomp, are, no doubt, saleable. Indeed, the kids, here go mental throughout. But, then, they are all pissed and it is Saturday night.

Dance music is, of course, primarily functional. And Element do a job. Of sorts. The trick is to infuse such funk-tion with wit, drama, soul and all-round jaw-dropping musical ilan. Element may have big balls, but they're firing blanks.

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