goldiesaturnzreturnIs this some kind of tribal Goldie mask?

To really understand Saturnzreturn by Goldie one must be at ease with the flux of musical concepts and ideas. Despite variation of opinion and the staying power of rock and roll, music does mutate and twist and new players with different ideas enter the game. Goldie is not a musician in the classical sense of the word. He is more like an overseer or composer of his music, generating ideas and leaving the playing of instruments to others who know. This is why on Saturnzreturn, his second album, there is a long long list of collaborators...such notables as Diane Charlemagne (who vocalised on Timeless), Noel Gallagher (of Oasis fame and who seems to like to be described as "fucking large"...hmm), David Bowie (with unmistakeable voice), Guy Sigsworth (A keyboardist who seems to get around in the dance world) and KRS-1. There is also a rather large string orchestra.
Saturnzreturn has received varied reviews. As with his first album Timeless, this discset sounds ambitious and this time Goldie has hired the orchestra just to prove it. It IS an ambitous work. It IS very long. 'Mother' the opening track on disc one IS one hour long and has probably put off most listeners by now judging by the number of second hand returns I saw in the store. Despite that, there IS a lot to this album and not just because of its length.

disc one track desc

Mother is a monster track. The orchestra seems to have been hired just to play in this one. It is ethereal at times and monotonous at others. Diane Charlemagne's voice slides in and out between loops of violins and chords while Goldie (yes, Goldie) sings a little too and sounds quite ok though it's hard to tell with everything else going on. Mother is about Goldie's mother, quite simply, who had him fostered at the age of three. It is an exercise in self indulgence and personal therapy but this makes it also very intimate. This is a build up track, with beats somewhere in there and a definite mutating melody. Ambient IS the word.

Truth is certainly one of my faves. David Bowie sings as only he can, looped and echoed to heaven and backed by prominent ambient flow then stop then flow again keyboards. This track is outstanding. Ethereal, surrealistic and not a beat in sight. Amazing sounds.

A so called hidden track, as if we haven't had enough of those. They are not new and they usually stink. This one is thick with whispery gothic voices and every now and then a piano tinkle and backing chords. Nothing great, but not too bad.

Nice greens...

disc two track desc

Tempertemper is hard, certainly after the first disc. It features Noel Gallagher playing stinkrock guitar and Goldie going on about being angry and generally snarling over choppy fast beats. Nothing special. But then, I don't like the hard face of drum and bass.

Digital features KRS-1. It is shite. The rap stinks. It should not be here but then I'm forgetting that Goldie has a rather large ego and likes to brag through music. Forget this one unless you like hardass ego rap, red alert soundzzz and beatzzzz.

I'll be there for you opens with a heavenly sound pumps into a staid riff  beats up Buffalo gals sound and seems to go nowhere and then opens up again with the best riff of the piece. Just a reminder that Goldie is also well known for guerilla breaks. Has an old style sound. Meandering and ok.

When I first heard Believe on a listening post I thought they'd switched albums on me but it's all Goldie really. Kinda soulful vocalised opening, slowfunk bassline and then again flowing into chords. Something about belief looped over and over. Different.

Dragonfly was inspired by a childhood dream Goldie had. This is another ambient and fanciful excursion into his mind. There are fast beats here and a string of flutes, Fender Rhodes loops, buzzes, basslines and a wonderful typically ambient arrangement of three soulful synth chords. It changes eventually and beats up and then back into chord heaven. Wonderful.

Chico-deathofarockstar is guerilla breaks again and more heavy stinky guitar. Goldie does something here I haven't heard for ages in a track. He plays around with the speakers, alternating beats from one then the other and fading and beating back again into prominence. Cheesy in it's way but ok. What's this? Suddenly a riff seemingly lifted straight outta the former rave scene and more beats. Pretty formulaic but it's refreshing to hear something which harks back to the earlier days of the genre.

Letteroffate is yet another beatless track. It features the surprisigly clear and lonely voice of Goldie. Tinkly piano and lyrics about the suicide note he once wrote as a teen. Some great tone and chord changes. This is an excellent track. Intimate and self indulgent in a way which is not overbearing.

Fury-theorigin is dedicated to J Majik, another prominent figure in the scene. Hard once again. Hints of ambient string and then blown away by beats and a mutated darkcore bass. Nothing special. Guerilla tactics again really. Hit and miss breakbeatz more than anything here.

Huh? What? I should expect it really, the layering of heady beats with soulful progressive tracks like Crystalclear. Soaring female vocals by Diane Charlemagne, funkifried basslines, mute horn and uplifting sounds. Wonderful. This is a progressive track. A true slice of genius. A splicing of old and new sounds. Sentimentality and synthesiser combined.

Then we have the final track, Demonz. Bells tolling in Belgian ravesville. Cut up beats and glass breaking. The album should have ended with Crystalclear.  In fact as I listen to this now I'm going to go back and listen to Crystalclear. I hate when a fine album ends with shite like this.

What this album does for the drum and bass scene I'm not sure. It is not a typical drum and bass album and I'm certain that Goldie likes it that way : uncompromising, defiant and still accessible. There are too many beatless tracks here to make it conventional d&b and yet, too many beats  to make it something completely other. It's not artcore, not hardstep, not darkcore, not techstep... let's just call it Goldieromp.

Saturnzreturn is an example of music mutation and ego that drives. Goldie is a front man for the 'scene' and this album is his soul on plastic. It is not wholly successful but then I don't own many albums that are. Saturnzreturn, from the enigmatic (can anyone mail me and tell me what it actually is..?!) cover design and Latin dialogue (presumably about G himself) to the concept of a huge orchestral like "Mother" and the hardwank beatz we've heard before, is very interesting. I really like it. No doubt some people really don't like it at all. Not enough drums and too many chords or whatever. I like it because it is exceptionally diverse. And I don't care whether Goldie is a musician in the accepted sense of the word or not. Goldie and his crew, the orchestra, the singers, the myriad engineers.. the Goldie Project as I like to call it, have produced a fine album !

You can browse some of his albums here
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