Rairbirds 1

A dreamy, portentous intro with the sort of sound effects people show off in hifi showrooms builds into a big techno stomper that has me stomping round the room. And then....and then.... Someone says 'this house has been out at sea all night' - a line from remains Of Elmete - my favourite Ted Hughes poetry collection, before quoting the next few lines. And I'm impressed. A melody line keeps floating up that puts me in mind of Swiss techno prototypes, Yello. This first track is, of course, the big single and has been kicking around since the turn of the century but nonetheless is worth the price of admission on its own.

Rairbirds are a live dance band - i.e. they don't use samples, they aim for an organic sound and I applaud them for that - you know those times when the band responds to the crowd's energy and temperatures rise - kind of tough for samples or discs to respond in the same way. So kudos to organic dance. The mixture of tracks is, to use a cliche, eclectic. From floor filler frenetic rising trancey lines to hard on the floor four four beat, there seems to be a bit of everything, dressed up with clever-clever spoken vocals or sung melody lines. And it's largely mixed into a non-stop sequence. When they roll out Dylan's It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) it's a surprise but they don't cheese or dolly it up. They run the whole (very long lyrics) and they work better as something you'd mull on the floor as your feet move, maybe more than as a sit down and listen number. Throbbing bass breakdowns, heavy breathing and stomping beat sessions break up sections of the song into an epic.

Rairbirds use real strings, hiring in an orchestra for some parts then using real instruments to become a dixieland jazz band for Tiger Rag - a 30's stomp dolled up peculiarly with modern beat treatments. It's a laugh but comes out not a thousand miles from the effect of Jive Bunny and The Master mixers. Oh dear.....

The rest of the album is back to business as (un)usual. It's a banging album and the live touches and clever sequencing make for an album rather than collection of toons. For someone like me who likes a driving beat but gets bored with your average 'dance' record that doesn't make him want to dance, this is a tonic.

Ross McGibbon