Better Living Through Chemistry
Repetition. It's a integral part of most of the many segments of techno, and hey,
and hey, and hey, when it's done right it can be a great way to build tension,
give ya a chance to shake yer money maker, and feel the special throbbing in your
head that only 10,000 watts of pounding bass can achieve.
Like the proverbial Fatboy hoarding roasted chickens and corn-nuts, Slim isn't
wasting any beats. Taking a handful of samples for each track and looping them
around and around one another in a decidedly uncommon dance mix, Better Living
Through Chemistry is rife with guitar, funk and R&B samples that come and go.
But you're assured that you'll never hear a sample just once. Although Better
Living is comparitively down to earth when compared to its Astralwerks
stablemates (u-ziq, Photek, Fluke, Chemical Brothers), the closest comparison
that I can offer would be Coldcut's less creative numbers on Let Us Play.
Rather than trancing us out with space odyssey bloops and bleeps, Better
Living prefers to offer us infinite loops of samples mutated far beyond
recognition. Admittedly, the repetition can be a little maddening at home, but
it's undoubtedly mad dance material. "Give The Po'man A Break" offers us a loop
of a sample of someone saying (can you guess?) "Give The Po'man A Break" with
every measure, over about four layers of percussive sound from heavy bass throbs
to spastic, quick hi-hats and what sounds like an epileptic on a wood block.
Periodically, tension builds culminating in a climactic change in aural scenery,
lazer zips emerging in a whoosh from the dark to give us a break in the action.
Most of the tracks on Better Living follow this general principle, with a
few oddities on the mellower side. It's not bad, but it sure ain't in the top
99th percentile of its class.
-James P. Wisdom