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Conjure One
Extraordinary Ways
Nettwerk Records

Rhys Fulber has been at the forefront of the industrial music scene for decades with his band Frontline Assembly. Then in the nineties, Fulber made forays into more accessible and ambient music with his Frontline side project Delirium. That little project made some amazing atmospheric music with some sweet female vocals that belied everything that Fulber had previously had his hands on. Now, the electro-master has stepped out on his own and made a definitive mark in low-beat pop with his latest project Conjure One. For Conjure One, Fulber has adopted the credo of techno giants like Massive Attack and The Chemical Brothers by writing and producing the music and calling in a revolving cast of vocalists to complete the songs. The result is a very enjoyable trip through electro-trance landscapes that leaves the listener relaxed and with a delightful sense of wonder.

Each song on Extraordinary Ways has its own unique personality, both in form and instrumentation, as well as in vocalist choice and style. A fine example of this trend towards individualism is the delicate instrument that I would fancy as being shamisen on "Face The Music", which is featured lightly and then lost behind a solid drumbeat and heavy strings. The vocalist on this track, Tiff Lacey, has a haunting voice not unlike Beth Orton, that adds the perfect amount of depth and beauty to an otherwise beautiful track. The introductory Indian vibe of "I Believe" is in no way indicative of the quirky techno-pop that is to follow, as Rhys Fulber takes the vocal chores on himself. He delivers a brilliant performance that would make Gary Numan wish he was once again back in 1984… this track reminds me sonically of an updated "Video Killed The Radio Star", but minus the poppy nonsense, replacing it instead with a dense strata of guitars and keyboards that build to a startlingly beautiful crescendo. The title track features some nice analog keyboards (the best I've heard this year), interesting rhythms, and some of the finest vocal melodies I've been exposed to in months. This vocalist, known only as Jane, has a beautiful depth and candor to her voice that is very refreshing, toeing the line between Bjork's gruff growl and Dido's smooth contralto.

Extraordinary Ways is fine, fine music for the relaxation set, people. If you are a fan of Sarah McLachlan's less poppy numbers, when she swoons with emotion and musical creativity, then Conjure One will be right up your alley. The songs are fluid and smooth, never grating or stepping into disturbing territory. Low beat pop music filled with sensual keyboards and diggable beats… Enigma for the next generation? I wholeheartedly endorse this record!

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. Endless Dream
2. Face The Music
3. Pilgrimage
4. One Word
5. I Believe
6. Beyond Being
7. Extraordinary Way
8. Dying Light
9. Forever Lost
10. Into The Escape

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