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Juno Reactor
Shango
Metropolis Records


Juno Reactor is unknown by the majority of mainstream listeners. It is a bit of a quandary, as for years they have created dance beats that are easily a match for most radio and club hits. Running the gamut from softer techno to edgy gothic/industrial, Juno Reactor are chameleons in the electronica scene. On Shango they explore a variety of styles new to their distinctive sound, incorporating world beats and exotic textures, and keeping vocals to a minimum. But even with the introduction of this new vibe, they retain the overall feeling associated with their past endeavors.

"Pistolero" begins the album with Spanish style guitar and a web of samples of women and guns. It is a well-crafted track, and one that would make Ennio Morricone envious. Tending towards the feel of "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly," "Pistolero" is unlike any track I have heard from Juno Reactor in the past, a sign of their expanding abilities. "Hule Lam" begins with tribal beats and African vocalizations, and moves into a disjointed groove built off of vocal "samplets." The rhythm is fast, and tends to keep your feet moving. The energy is somewhat subdued on "Insects," but the sounds and ideas are brilliant. An almost drumless groove is built around a throbbing bass line and various incidental sounds, more like theremin than keyboards. "Badimo" is a spooky, gothic piece built on high-beat world sounds, with a large amount of non-understandable vocalizations adding to the darkness. The delays and strings are carefully orchestrated and set a mood of intense horror. It is a track more at home on perhaps a soundtrack for Dracula than on a dance record. In a more terror-dance sound, "Masters of the Universe" throttles the senses with pounding bass and ethereal foreign chorus lines. The melodies of piano and voices intertwining create a lush ambience for the beat. There are interesting sounds, and contradicting rhythms, enough to keep the listener interested for its entire 6 minute run.

"Nitrogen [part 1]" begins the second half of the record with a Jean Michel Jarre-like ambience. It is, like its counterpart "Nitrogen [part 2]," wholly enthralling. "Part 1" holds back and creates its strength in slowly built ambiences and dark textures, layered over dirty rhythm tracks and varied instrumentation. "Part 2" moves on to incorporate more of the gothic feel, with less of the world beat sounds and more industrial instrumentation. Neither track is entirely beat heavy, and both tend to drag if you are wanting to move your booty. "Solaris" is a deep track with sound structure more than song structure. It is an ambient piece in the truest sense of the word, and is filled with sounds and shapes of varying distinctiveness and beauty. Interesting vocal samples add to the dark aspect of the song, and light rhythms help to form its intrinsic beauty. "Song for Ancestors" returns the album to its final dealings with world beats and foreign vocalizations. It is a slower trance track with harrowing drums and remote, inaccessible sounds. It is crafted wonderfully around a haunting vocal track by a woman with a voice of unspeakable beauty, and droning instrumentation. A second song within the song brings to light acoustic guitars and eerie human sounds that chill the listener to the bone. Layer upon layer of sound make this track a fantastic last look at an album full of wonderful sounds and grooves.

Shango is not an album to be listened to whilst sitting, I have discovered…but, with few exceptions, is meant to be experienced in the thralls of volume and dancing. Juno Reactor are advancing in their abilities to produce a variety of listenable music, and are becoming more and more adept at making music that is not only danceable, but somewhat mythic. While this album is highly danceable, and begs for it, I think the major strengths lie in the textures of the sounds, and the crafting of the grooves. Fans of trance-techno would be well advised to stop and hear the Juno Reactor.

–David DeVoe

Track Listing:

  1. Pistolero
  2. Hule Lam
  3. Insects
  4. Badimo
  5. Masters of the Universe
  6. Nitrogen [part1]
  7. Nitrogen [part2]
  8. Solaris
  9. Song For Ancestors


Mike Doughty



Pink Floyd

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