Liveandirect | EW.com

Music

LiveandirectLiveandirect — an album by one of the sensations from Britain's hot Manchester scene — was first released three months ago,...LiveandirectElectronicLiveandirect — an album by one of the sensations from Britain's hot Manchester scene — was first released three months ago,...1990-07-27
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Liveandirect

Genre: Electronic; Lead Performer: Adamski; Producer (group): MCA

Liveandirect — an album by one of the sensations from Britain’s hot Manchester scene — was first released three months ago, with no special fanfare. But then Adamski scored a No. 1 hit on the British charts with ”Killer,” and suddenly his American exposure seemed incomplete. That’s why the record has now been rereleased in an expanded version, with ”Killer” added at the end.

In a way, the addition is a shame. Adamski is a techno-gypsy. He shows up with minimal electronic gear at the massive late-night dance parties the British call ”raves” and creates his music on the spot; all the songs except ”Killer” were recorded live, complete with crowd noise. Even though they were taped on several nights, the cuts — all instrumental — flow into each other almost magically. The beat continues, but the shape and color of the sound abruptly shift. Successive songs introduce new events: a nasal bass riff, a new kind of keyboard chatter, even (in ”Love and Life”) an acceleration of the tempo. ”Killer” aside, the album sounds like a small-scale re-creation of Adamski’s improvised performances, which at a rave might last for hours.

The music itself is a patchwork, made up of overlapping, repeated fragments — beats, successions of chords, brief melodies — that Adamski phases in and out, all but infallibly sensing when something has gone on too long or when something new needs to be introduced. ”Killer” varies the mix; the sound is airier, and there’s a vocalist singing about freedom. Still, even that No. 1 hit sounds simple and direct. There must be thousands of people who create more gleaming electronic sound, but few of them weave their work together even half as joyfully. B+