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  Shortwave Subliminal
Rating: 2 out of 5 Rating: 2 out of 5

by James Hardy

The downtempo beats and feedback-laden electronic compositions behind the breathy vocals of Shortwave's Subliminal would have made for intriguing listening about eight years ago. Unfortunately for this duo, the past decade has seen both the blow-up and the subsequent deflation of the trip-hop genre they inhabit. The sound Shortwave explores has been culled by Massive Attack, Portishead, Smith & Mighty and Tricky, among others, and nothing on Subliminal improves upon or even matches the average Bristol trip-hop release.

This is not to say that the album is unpleasant to listen to. Two tracks, "Amazing" and "So Beautiful" (much like the music itself, you won't find much inspiration in the titles or lyrics of the songs), present nothing new, but both offer a modicum of aesthetic beauty in solemn keyboards over typical drum machine beats. Vocalist DC Cunningham is given her best chance to shine on "Are You Listening" and impresses with the monotone consistency, if not the depth, of her voice. The first track contains the hook, "Sometimes it comes to me in dreams," and hints at the best function for Subliminal as a cure for insomnia. "Tripping On The Way Home," the alleged "bonus track," achieves an interesting feedback effect that leaves you with the feeling of stumbling home at dawn, static on the brain, trying to remember a song you heard earlier that night. Unfortunately, "Tripping On The Way Home" is that song. The fifth track, "Maybe," is pure filler; remarkable in a collection of songs that could be classified as above-average filler, anyway.

As background noise, Shortwave's Subliminal does not offend. If you are looking for innovation or an interesting update on the trip-hop sound, however, look elsewhere.

At Amazon.com

Mezzanine from Amazon.com Mezzanine
by Massive Attack

Track Listing:

  1. Angel
  2. Risingson
  3. Teardrop
  4. Inertia Creeps
  5. Exchange
  6. Dissolved Girl
  7. Man Next Door
  8. Black Milk
  9. Mezzanine
  10. Group Four
  11. Exchange

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