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Rambient: So Many Worlds

Christine Hsieh


So Many Worlds

Label: Immergent
US Release Date: 2001-09-25

Rock and electronic music have a very shaky relationship. Early on in their career, the Chemical Brothers put big beat on the map and successfully merged rock sounds with dance influences. Other bands have been a little less successful, but that's not for lack of trying. Boy George ditched Culture Club and paid his dues as a DJ, and now lays claim to a rather successful career. Perry Farrell, as DJ Peretz, is also trying his hand, and with mixed results. And now, Porno for Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano teams up with film composer Harry Gregson-Williams as Rambient, and their debut effort, So Many Worlds suffers from a gross lack of originality and an abysmal selection of guest vocalists.

From a production standpoint, So Many Worlds really isn't that bad. The opener, "All That Is", explores somber, ambient melodies, though for only a brief period before moving into the next track. "Power" is also a decent tune, using vaguely Eastern-influenced synth work and crunchy guitars. DiStefano and Gregson-Williams reach some moments of near-brilliance with the interesting "Deliverance". This cut utilizes a quirky, light-hearted bassline to promising effect, winding it with solid drum'n'bass sensibilities, intriguing percussion, and a high-energy, feedback-heavy guitar solo. "Birth of a Girl", featuring Flea, Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist extraordinaire, is also quite nice in its moody, melodic way.

Rambient misstep horribly with their choice of vocalists, however. What could have been promising compositions are utterly ruined by incompatible singing. "Burn", though it apes trite big beat sounds, becomes an utterly terrible song once Divine Styler half raps, half chants monotonously over the din while an annoying, dissonant voice wails "burn!" in the background. Similarly, Miho Hatori ruins "Karma" with her harsh, nasal rapping. The song's plucky guitars and low, winding bass could have made for a fine song on its own, sadly enough. DiStefano and Gregson-William's complex percussive patterns on "Idle Flow" take a backseat to Peter Murphy's melodramatic voice, rendering that track absolutely useless and hard to take, and he reappears on "We Dive" only to spoil the carefully built ambient warmth. The first single off this album, "Hurricane", features a dull Sarah McLachlan imitation (vocalist Lisbeth Scott), whose voice wanders desultorily over fuzzed out instrumentation, and the title track steals a circa 1996 Crystal Method-approved big beat formula and places Miho Hatori's grating vocals over top.

A valiant production effort from two music veterans, So Many Worlds falls victim to unnecessary and poorly chosen attempts at melody and lyricism. Maybe next time, boys.

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