Various - MTV's Amp
When MTV started airing a show called AMP in 1996, electronic music newsgroups suddenly began filling with mail from those who suggested that the featured bands should stay underground, as if public recognition of these emerging talents would somehow cheapen the genre and sanitize the music. As it turned out, neither of these doom scenarios came to pass, instead there are now millions of people out there that have something more than the MTV approved diet of Aerosmith, "Real" World and skimpy bikini's to feast on.
AMP (the album) is a selection of tracks from artists featured on the show with The Chemical Brothers starting things off with bang. Reminiscent of classic Beastie Boys the opening track has all the trademarks of one of the hottest bands out of England this year, with SFX and overdriven analog riffs throughout. Next up comes Fluke, with a similar feel to the opener but riding on a meaty synth bass line. There's also a preacher rap vocal line that helps move things along.
As the next song begins I realize that the executive producers haven't just thrown this compilation album together, they instead allow the dynamics of each track to create a momentum that takes the listener through various distinct styles of modern electronic music. Underworld with a walkie talkie vocal driven dance track that includes the hyper intensive drum programming that's helping define this genre.
The amazing Future Sound of London close out this first zone. They make music that sounds like it was programmed by magic. The entire work moves along so effortlessly it's hard to figure out what actually makes it tick. No sooner have the final few ethereal samples faded away than we are taken into the next phase of the album with a band called Photek. They somehow create a bohemian feel with jazz drum patterns and a tuned timpani that fills the space a bass would be expected to be in. Along comes a piece by Aphex Twin that has a bewilderingly intricate drum pattern that works it's way through some cool laid back classical lounge music.
After a title by Orbital, which successfully closes out the pseudo art crowd section, comes an unusual track by a band called Tranquility Bass which could easily pass for some kind of hippy based folk rock combo, if it wasn't for the use of a synth bass line and sound effects. A trippy guitar improvises throughout, which is accompanied by a Fender Rhodes piano and various other acoustic sounding instruments. There's a brief spurt at the end of the track, then it's into an uninspiring song from Goldie that makes them sound like some kind of East London pub band. Although it's not my cup of tea it does represent a genre of electronic music that means something to many people.
A remix of Prodigy's "Voodoo People" by The Chemical Brothers gets you back into the groove with a grinding rhythm track and vocal stabs that again remind me of the Beastie Boys. This is not a bad thing, after all, the energy their music produces is of their own making, and they continue to take me where I want to go.
Josh Wink follows with a simple but effective dance track that takes us to "Busy Child" by The Crystal Method, again sparse and relatively uneventful with a couple of great little sections that send it off at a tangent before re-grouping and moving on.
Last but not least comes Atari Teenage Riot with "Sick To Death", it's a trashy thrash electro punk track that sounds as if it would be best heard while watching the accompanying, no doubt visually entertaining video. It's at this point that I realise how well this compilation works as an album in it's own right. It's a sampler of what's going on out there, and anyone who is looking to find out what this electronic music "thing" is all about would be well advised to check it out.
Rating: 828,422 (out of a possible 1,000,000)