More Pheeble Than Phat

Goldie - Saturnz Return
(FFRR Records)
2 stars (out of 5 stars)

Story by Tony Bonyata

2 stars (out of 5 stars) Drum-and-bass, a dance music heavy on frenetic drum beats and vital organ-thumping bass lines that evolved out of London's underground dance scene a couple of years ago may have just lost their sole poster boy, Goldie.
When Goldie released his debut album Timeless he was heralded as the king of drum-and-bass. Now two years later on his sophomoric effort he seems more like a court jester as he takes this music from the dance floor (the only place where it is really effective) and makes a laughable attempt at marrying it with pop, classical, soul, ambient, hip hop, jazz and techno.
The experimentations that Goldie tries to pull off seem noble enough on the surface but the results, for the most part, should have been left on the cutting room floor where he apparently gathered them from. On his latest album Saturnz Return Goldie rarely hits the mark as he did on Timeless.
This two discs in this set are decidedly different from each other. Disc one is more of an aural, atmospheric album dominated by the 60 minute long opus "Mother", which sleepily weaves ambient electronica into a classical string orchestration before plodding into a dreary drum-and-bass section. The theatrical and pretentious melody that permeates throughout the song only leads one to envision Goldie pilfering through Andrew Lloyd Weber's garbage for this sour score. Even David Bowie's croon on the droning rhythm-less song "Truth" can't stop the slow leak of this sinking ship.
Disc two offers a bit more in musical textures and variables. Opening with the aggressive techno number "Temper Temper", with Oasis' Noel Gallagher delivering a rather sinister lead guitar, Goldie gives the techno-rave band Prodigy a run for their money. On the light "Dragonfly" he incorporates his trademark drum-and-bass schizophrenia to a jazzy combo of flute, congos and organ which turns out to be quite pleasing. The soulful singing of Diane Charlemagne over a funky '70's guitar with pepperings of flugal horn also keep things interesting on "Crystal Clear".
The techno clatter, however, on "Demonz" while at first engaging soon turns annoying with it's mind numbing repetitiveness. Goldie hires hip-hopper vocalist KRS1 on "Digital" a half-witted, interbreeding of drum-and-bass and hip hop.
The term 'phat' is to the rap, hip hop and drum-and-bass crowd what 'cool' was to the beatniks in the '50's. Although once phat, Goldie has spread himself so thin on Saturnz Return he proves to be more pheeble than anything else.

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