Don Solaris

by: 808 State

Although Manchester's first breakthrough acid house band hadn't disappeared entirely from the production scene, their sporadic recordings following 1993's Gorgeous were limited either to Japanese-only pressings or to members of their fan club, State to State. Don Solaris, the group's first widely available album in more than four years, is thus something of a return for the group. And somewhat surprisingly, it's accomplished stuff, successfully avoiding the twin slumps of blandness and derivativeness that so often attend the post-hiatus of once innovative groups. The album roams freely from anthemic acid house to trip-hop to jungle to dense, warping electro, with studio chops that raise well-written songs to a higher level of listenability. Although vocal contributions from the likes of M. Doughty of Soul Coughing, Louise Rhodes of Lamb, and James Dean Bradfield of the Manic Street Preachers occasionally prove intrusive, the group deftly integrate pop song structure with a focused experimentalism. ~ Sean Cooper

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