[narcoticbeats sleeve]"narcoticbeats" (Album, 1998)

Endorphin Records

"There's a lot of it about" you hear people say of many things. Dance music is certainly one of those 'things'. Fortunately, there's equally a lot of diversity about too, so there's usually something for everyone. My knowledge of the dance music scene is minimal it has to be said. I often find myself laughing off seemingly ridiculous sub-genre labels that challenge even the die-hard fan of a particular style of music to spot the subtle differences. So please excuse me if I don't apply the appropriate trendy label, but for my money acceleradeck produce hypnotic, mellow, dance music. Their debut album narcoticbeats on the new Endorphin Records label has caught the eye of Miramax films in the US who will be using a track from the album in one of their up-coming productions.

Titles like the shimmer and the static, crystallized, drifting out and innerstare provide some insight into acceleradeck's approach to music making - as should the album title itself. All the tracks share a densely layered production sound and slightly low-fi styling. This could as much be due to the nature of the recording - it sounds like a bedroom studio or relatively low-budget affair - but for this type of music that isn't a problem. All eleven tracks are instrumental, a balance is struck between ambience and dance beats, and there are psychedelic touches throughout. The opener sketch set begins with a sedate but distinctly trippy drum loop. This is quickly joined by a wash of guitars somewhere at a distance with Eastern percussive and string elements adding a distinctive edge. A scratchy record loop provides the beat on the shimmer, while this bliss features more up front, crisp percussion and a low-key but effective bass guitar.

The wash of guitar backing throughout most of narcoticbeats reminded me at times of My Bloody Valentine's Loveless album, but I found my mind darting all over the place for comparisons with the likes of Dif Juz and Hans Joachim Rodelius popping into my head at times. Upon first listening the whole work tends to blur somewhat, but the subtleties of the tracks begin to emerge with repeated listening as persistence pays off. Even though there is a constant 'murky' quality, one can readily imagine most of the tracks being applied as background music to cool adverts. If I were their manager, I'd be sure to send some sample tracks to commercial production companies - it could so easily pay off. Interestingly, I was underwhelmed by greentone - the track chosen by Miramax, and the other weak link is guided that begins well enough with reversed drums but quickly looses direction. I'm a big fan of simple melodies and note sequences and so, it seems, are acceleradeck. Short, simple patterns both on guitar and keyboards are repeated over and over with minimal but successful progression. This approach is applied in layers and a weave of sound is created. Although some songs feature strong beats, narcoticbeats works wonders as a chill-out album - the music is ambient in the truest sense of that overused word. It is perfect 'background' music but before you know it you are listening intently, getting drawn ever further into its dense compositions. innerstare brings the acceleradeck experience to an end - gently bringing you down to earth. It isn't easy to make your mark in the dance music scene and still create decent music but with a touch of luck (like the Miramax deal) acceleadeck and bands like them will get the exposure they deserve. 7/10

Rob Dyer