Thirteen by Robert Miles (Salt Records)
For those expecting another Dreamland album of new agey dance music, you’ll be thrown for a loop with Thirteen. Robert Miles has never attempted the same album twice: on 23am he added some drum’n’bass beats and guitars to the mix; on Organik he added hand drums by Nitin Sawhney, crafting some funky and spacey jazz-rock masterpieces; with percussionist and composer Trilok Gurtu he made Miles/Gurtu, further delving into trip-hop, free jazz, drum’n’bass and ambient arrangements.
Orchid Miracle begins the journey of Thirteen with a sense of wonder, dreaming of the adventures to come. It’s very ambient, containing live guitar and bass and lush keyboards. The suitably titled Moving takes the first steps into the unknown; as guitars, bass and drums weave a mystical pattern the song slowly builds to a rocking tempo with spacey keyboards underlining the breathtaking guitar leads.
Somnambulism contains bluesy guitars trading licks with liquid keyboards and jazzy percussion. Everything Or Nothing is the first signs of danger with darkly funky bass and drum rhythms and guitars that sneak up on you, breaking out into a some truly rocking playing.
Afterglow gets the band rocking hard, with a very Rush-in-early-prog-mode climax. Deep End has an intense groove brought even higher with a squeaky guitar lead.
Miniature World is a funky rocker with a warm guitar melody and Superstition style keyboards. Antimony follows, dropping you into a deep, dark hole of scratchy rhythms, pinging loops and itchy guitars, letting you see a bit of light in the middle before pounding out a tight groove to close.
Tightening the tension even further is Archives, a funky as hell workout with evil keyboards that insinuate their way into your head, whispering promises of pain and pleasure. Then Voices from a Submerged Sea announces you’re about to end your journey as uplifting violins blend with wordless female vocals, the tension dissipates.
The Wolf is a fitting coda to Thirteen featuring Robert Miles playing a quietly dramatic solo arrangement on piano.
(Review by Bret Miller)