by: Way Out West

Ask anybody what the most impressive musicians sound like and odds are they'll say they sound nothing like their influences. Which might imply that Bristol-bred Way out West -- being submerged in both trip-hop and Madchester -- demand the utmost respect for making a glittering, expressive trance record. Such is the case for most of Intensify, only if one takes a blind eye to the more glaring dips into transcendental self-importance. Certainly, a huge majority of the songs here undulate with a swish of snug synths and countryside astral works -- the Enigma techno house of "Hypnotise" or "Secret" translate eccentric elements into militant house stompers -- but when guest vocalists like Kirsty Hawkshaw (remembered most for her Opus III project and her role with BT) try to yank the experience into something more conventionally "moving," the album founders with pomposity. Still, not many progressive trance records would sample Coldcut's "Autumn Leaves" ("The Fall") or sound like a lost Borg finding itself at Gatecrasher ("Shark Hunt"). ~ Dean Carlson

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