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Saturnz Return

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Album Review

Goldie's debut album Timeless established him as the king of jungle. Spanning two discs and boasting the epic, 20-plus minute "Timeless," Timeless was filled with ambition and invention, and it bristled with the thrill of the new — it sounded as if the music was being invented as you heard it. The debut was so astonishing that it, in many ways, painted Goldie into a corner for his follow-up, SaturnzReturn. Goldie not only had to equal its consistency, but he had to offer fresh dimensions to the now-familiar drum'n'bass rhythms. Superficially, SaturnzReturn at least delivers in terms of scale and ambition. Running a little over two and a half hours and including a mini-symphony as its first track, the double-disc set is bursting with promise. Unfortunately, it fails to reach the dizzying heights of its predecessor, and its very ambitions feel like burdens. "Mother," the amorphous hour-long pseudo-symphony that comprises the first disc, collapses before the drums are even heard. After 20 minutes of atmosphere, a surge of intriguing rhythms wash up, only to fade away after another 20 minutes to reveal a simplistic, simple-minded symphonic theme that is never developed. If the second disc had been a masterpiece, it would have been easy to forgive the excesses of "Mother," but it suffers from a near-crippling schizophrenia. Divided between harrowing, dark aural journeys and slick, club-ready R&B, the disc never develops a consistent mood and often is sunk by overlong, misguided tracks. With its waves of processed Noel Gallagher guitars and garbled Goldie vocals, "Temper Temper" never quite hits as hard as it should, and it never has the impact of the gutsy KRS-One collaboration, "Digital." Those two vocal tracks are hardly the closest Goldie comes to accessiblity — "Believe" and "I'll Be There for You" have slick soul textures, with layered keyboards, wah guitars and wailing divas. These soul excursions last too long, and are intercut with dark jungle explorations that have scary rhythmic structures, but no sense of purpose. There are some very provocative textures scattered throughout these ten tracks, and Goldie's skill for hyperactive drum programming can be astonishing, but that astonishment fades quickly since the music never goes anywhere — it just meanders forever, as the drums slowly lose their power and turn into a tinny din of noise. As a result, Goldie sounds confused, as if he wants to push forward but doesn't know how. With some serious editing, SaturnzReturn would have been a powerful record, but as it stands, its bloated running time and pretentious, formless songs only obscure Goldie's considerable talent.

Customer Reviews

The Reappraisal Begins Here

Inexplicably mauled to death on its initial release, this indesribably unique, immensely ballsy record is ripe for rediscovery. A far more expansive, experimental record than Timeless, its vast arry of different sounds, genres and influences led some to believe that Goldie was merely taking haphazard potshots at all of them. The opposite is quite clearly true. The fact that Goldie hasn't produced another record since is a testament to how vicious, and how misguided, the British press were towards it. How can a record with tracks as polished and diverse as Dragonfly, Chico, Believe and Digital be so disregarded? This is a masterpiece. Buy.

Dark, brave and personal

This album won't be for everyone admittedly, it's quite gruelling. But then it's also beautiful. When you go out on a limb like Goldie does with 'Mother' it's just asking for a critical drubbing from a press that believes only in finding the next big nihilistic thing. If this had been composed by Gavin Bryars or some such, it would have been hailed as a masterpiece. This is big, expansive but intimate music that you'll never forget if you take the time to listen.

Gorgeous

If one could see music, then Saturnz Return would be like fine poetry: poetry in it's simplest, it's nakedest, and it's most accessible form. You could say it's a knowing album, simply iridescent and highly crafted: music like this is rare, and the critics knew it. And the true art comes through the listening. Then you get understandings of Goldie's creation. And good on him!

Biography

Born: 1966 in Walsall, England

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The first superstar produced by the breakbeat jungle movement, Goldie popularized drum'n'bass as a form of musical expression just as relevant for living-room contemplation as techno had become by the early '90s. Though he hardly developed the style, and his later reliance on engineers like Rob Playford and Optical to capture his sound puts into question his true musical importance, Goldie became one of the first personalities in British dance music, his gold teeth and b-boy attitude placing him...
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Saturnz Return, Goldie
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