by: Swayzak

Even as their meld of jazzy house and experimental dub became a hot commodity on the electronics scene, the British duo Swayzak pulled back from the form slightly on their sophomore album. Also in contrast to their deep dub-techno excursions on split-singles with Detroit's Theorem, Himawari scatters influences from electro ("State of Grace"), dub poetry ("Illegal"), house ("Caught in This Affair"), acid ("Mysterons"), and ambient techno ("Doobie"). Still, the album isn't a radical departure; most of these inspirations are cycled through Swayzak's fondness for gorgeous, electrified, echoing synth waves. And even though Himawari has a surprising focus on vocal tracks (with featured guests Benjamin Zephaniah, Kirsty Hawkshaw, and J.B. Rose), the duo's less-is-more aesthetic still comes in loud and clear -- and sounds immediately distinctive. When the pair most closely revisit the shimmering, slinky nu-house of their debut ("Japan Air," "Leisure Centre"), the results are especially inspired. It's a bit of a shame that Swayzak moved on so quickly, but they made the transition as smooth as possible. ~ John Bush

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