After a nine-year silence, early ‘90s UK techno mavens the Utah Saints have put out their second LP. In 1991, the Saints made a name for themselves by sampling such diverse sources as Kate Bush and Motorhead and fusing them in order to make such uplifting crossover hits as “Something Good.” Well the Saints have finally gotten their collective act together and are back in business making the same sort of danceable sound collages that made them famous. The diversity on Two is stunning, with the Saints trying to span the full spectrum of electronic genres. At the same time, they manage to keep cohesion by sampling the same interview with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe on four different songs, using it as reference point throughout the album.
“Power to the Beats” samples Chuck D’s in your face vocals and puts the over top of a Metallica guitar riff and a pounding beat to create a gritty, violent sound that most metal heads and punkers could only dream of, while “Funky Music” pairs Edwin Star’s vocals with crashing guitars to create some heavy-yet-danceable industrial sounds reminiscent of Snog or My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult. Most amusingly, “Techknowledgy” is a heavy duty ass-kicker based around a sample of Iggy and the Stooges’ “Search and Destroy.”
At the other end of the sonic spectrum, songs like “Massive,” “Lost Vagueness” and the Stipe-vocalled “Sun” and “Morning Sun” prove once and for all that electronic music can be heart wrenching beautiful. Not forgetting their roots in the early rave movement, the Saints also include such infectiously danceable cuts as “Love Song” and “Sick.”
Two is definitive proof that the Utah Saints did not lose any steam during their extensive hiatus. It also forces us to reconsider the dominant pop music belief that an artist needs to put out a new record every ten to eighteen months in order to stay relevant. After all, any halfwit can puke out the milquetoast wailings of the Backstreet Boys or the pretentious ramblings of Radiohead, but only the truly gifted can produce something like Two. (Nettwerk America/Nettwerk)