Radium88
"Artificial Life"

(Self-Released 2002)Radium88 - Artificial Life

It's hard to pin down Radium88. Their release "Artificial Life" is made of songs that can, generally, either be categorized as mellow ambient or trip hop "“ although, more accurately, the songs are not really purely one or the other. But whatever the category, Radium88 add in their dreamy, spaced out sound.

Starting off quiet and mellow, "Life Is Now" has a relaxed new age sound while "Icarus" has just enough of an electronic rhythm pulsing through it to keep it in between slow and mid tempo. Both songs, with melody carrying it, feature the airy vocals of Radium88's Jema Davies. Transitioning to trip hop mid tempo "Watch The Skies," the band adds Tim Thwaites vocals as he and Davies (with her vocals sounding like a mix of PJ Harvey and Kim Gordon) take turns delivering lines. Although violins were used in previous songs, they stand out the most on the club-friendly electronic ragtime of "Gypsies In Tha House." On the piano twinkling "Headlong," the band mixes the harder beats with a racing beat, and Davies airy choir-like vocals as the violins reprise their role. Sounding not unlike some of the earlier tracks, "Phatt Wah" features both Thwaites and Davies vocals on the thumping mid tempo song.

"The People With The Power," a light and up beat piano-backed song with programming taking the focus works in an audio clip just enough so you get the point without being over inundated by it. Falling back to the ambient sound with a programmed rhythm, the melody driven "Chances Are" keeps the lighter edge. The band again use audio samples on "Disenchanted" (as well as on "White Noise" and Spacedub Odyssey") as the song goes from quieter ambient to more up beat. Closing the album with "Crash and Burn," Radium88 go out similar to how they came in "“ mellow, spacey and quiet; but this time, by adding a electronic pulse the ambient/new age morphs and becomes more interesting and inviting.

Although seemingly long at points, as you wonder if you've already heard a song before, "Artificial Life" is an easy and interesting listen. Radium88 have created a nice mix between mediums that isn't quite club music and isn't quite new age meditation music. "Artificial Life" puts a creative spin on a blending of new age and trip hop.

B-

buy it!