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Labyrinth

Juno Reactor

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Album Review

Juno Reactor are best known for their over the top cinematic trance epics utilized in equally overwrought action adventure films like The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolution, and the sweeping strings that open their sixth full-length album in just over a decade instigate a familiar rush for those who like their adventure administered with a fair amount of sci-fi/fantasy flair. But the warm-up of "Conquistador I" is so long, as it pulls back from digital orchestration to ethnic guitar meandering, that when the industrial-techno stomp of "Conquistador II" finally kicks in, it is almost jarring. It is also one of the few moments that Juno Reactor isn't kicking video game butt, as "Giant" hits even harder with Reece basslines pilfered from the darker side of jungle and "War Dogs" fully warps into an electronic metal band, albeit one with some kitchy world music leanings. This all-genre stomp of course finds its apex in "Mona Lisa Overdrive" and "Navaras," the two tracks taken from the Matrix films, remixed here but still shameless in their cathartic orchestral epiphanies. Only the dirge of "Angels and Men" offers reprieve for an entire song, although blaze-and-smolder dynamics are one of the group's specialties throughout. Those who loved Juno Reactor for their hyperdrive psychedelic trance of yore may or may not appreciate this direction taken in earnest since 2000's Shango. But perhaps a new generation raised on Xbox adrenalin blasts can handle the shock'n'awe.

Biography

Formed: 1991

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s

Best-known for injecting former porn star Traci Lords with some hi-NRG trance on her 1995 solo album, Ben Watkins and co. have pursued a fusion of Goa trance and techno on their own recordings as Juno Reactor. Watkins, who has produced Alison Moyet and worked with Youth (in both the Empty Quarter and Brilliant), formed his own band in the late '80s, the Flowerpot Men (not to be confused with the '60s band of the same name). Not long after, Watkins retreated to travel around the world with a portable...
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Labyrinth, Juno Reactor
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