History repeats. Worlds collide. Music evolves. Two and a half years ago Goldie became the first to take drum n' bass to a worldwide consumer audience with the epic 'Timeless', from out of the breath-taking innovations behind 'Inner City Life' and earlier breakbeat experiments 'Terminator' and 'Angel'. The rest is history, something no-one ever really expected or imagined with any level of realism.
This mysterious street urchin came in from the cold and made a lasting impact on British music, breathing life into a scene in danger of stagnation, creating an identity for a dangerously advanced and staggeringly un-exposed genre that was needed for any kind of 'logical progression'.
His story reads like
an everyday tale taken to radical extremes in all directions making it
so unique as a whole but so identifiable in mere scraps and slices. The
most extraordinary thing is Goldie's desire to exorcise the demons in his
head by expressing them through the most versatile musical style available
with seemingly no regard for losing touch with reality or the common people,
the listening masses. It's both sheer madness and undisputed courage that
this ambitious second album opens with an hour long piece 'Mother'. To
listen is to really feel as you are taking the deepest, most intricate
glimpse into Goldie's soul and to be honest it's not an appealing premise.
An entire hour will deter even the most ardent admirers of his music, but I tapped the bottle and after a nervous, difficult opening there is a beautiful track that illustrates Goldie's dark/light conflict like no other previous release from classical opus to sheer breakbeat genius. Timeless clearly provides the blueprint for what Goldie wanted to communicate all along and this is the interior to the first album's exterior outlook. However, you have to question 'Mother' and it's inclusion here and whether you'd ever listen to it more than once.
With that epic endured there is a somewhat odd, Bowie-penned track with a similar edge called 'Truth' to follow.
Elsewhere we feel much more comfortable with the hits 'Temper Temper' and 'Digital' as familiar characters Noel Gallagher and KRS-One rubber-stamp their support. Tracks like 'I'll Be There For You' and 'Fury-The Origin' clearly display their hardcore junglist roots with commendable pride while the splendid jazz fusions evident in 'Believe', 'Dragonfly' and 'Crystal Clear' prove that the expansion of Goldie's musical mindscape pays dividends his way and ours.
'Chico-Death Of A Rock Star' is a suitable interlude, 'Letter Of Fate' and the finale 'Demonz' hark greater similarities with 'Timeless' and while at some points it becomes excruciatingly difficult to call between the two albums in terms of accessibility and excellence, at other times the cold reality is that Goldie is steadily sinking in his own idyllic abyss, striving for imperfection.
You can't fault the smooth, dynamic production behind this album, with young craftsman Optical on the knobs. Where it falters is the direction and the purpose, something Goldie is solely accountable for. His own agenda being perhaps too intrusive on the material. Of course it's his album, his 'car crash' so he states, but to invite us all along with him means taking an immense risk with far-reaching consequences. While he would abhor such comparisons Goldie may have gone the way of Tricky, taking his personal negations too far and thus alienating himself from much of his audience. A great shame when you consider the original impact the two of them had on the industry, with nothing to lose and all to gain, their raw eminence shone through in their work and their action. And that may be the most despairing thing. While Roni Size's 'New Forms' really was essential listening 'Saturnz Return' is a little too detachable, too far removed and out on a limb (but necessarily so it seems). It severs similar nerves as 'OK Computer' in places but perhaps for a more specific audience.
My advice is to take what you want from it and appreciate what you will because as exceptionally well produced, deep and substantial as 'Saturnz Return' is there's only so much you can express with clarity and dignity before we stray into that nightmare domain of egotistical art/arse dogma.
Goldie teeters on
the brink but inevitably triumphs and moves on, and his future is now his
to define. A personal victory has indeed been atoned, at an unclaifiable
cost. Now the only thing Goldie has to worry about is
whether the next enemy he takes on is himself.
7 out of 10