on June 11, 2004
This new Faithless album distinguishes itself from the former three by being less dance-oriented. It looks as if they have decided that they've exploited the "Insomnia", "Salva Mea", and "God is a DJ" sound enough by now. Do not take this the wrong way, I love all of these tracks, but I think it is better this way.
The album "No Roots" is more intelligent, more message-driven and less varied, less up and down the wall. The main message is war, in its personal and sociological hue. There is a new vocalist, called LSK, and his voice fits the Faithless sounds. Maxi Jazz' lyrics are once again deeply inspiring, Dido makes another cameo. Rollo and Sister Bliss' efforts are less to the front, since none of the new songs seem to have that characteristic easy melody. Instead, the melodies arrive from orchestration and percussion.
All this makes this the easiest to listen to Faithless album, and the loungeiest. Yet, in a way, it seems the most coherent, developed and inspiring of them all, even when my premonitions tell me there will not be any great hits coming from this album. But isn't less presence in the hit parade more often the price for taking the long way home and abandoning easy tunes?
This one gets four stars,
on December 29, 2004
Well what can be said about Faithless? What indeed. They certainly have been around for a looong time now. Dating back to when dance/trance/club music was making huge waves over in the UK scene. But out of all of that, Faithless have grown, lost members and gained new ones. Throughout all of this, the sound of Faithless has remained for the most part constant. Until now. No Roots brings Faithless over the threshold into a new era. Gone now is the signature "trance/dance" stand out song we all expected to hear from their releases (IE, We Come One, God Is A DJ). We have instead, a more music and vocal driven selection. Added is a new frontline vocalist along side Maxi Jazz, who brings a soothing change to the group. There are also some really spectacular music only tracks here which can take you on quite the journey without the use of drugs. I highly recommend this cd even if you are not a true Faithless follower. Go for it, you won't regret it.
"More oneness, less categories,
Open hearts, no strategies.
Decisions based upon faith and not fear.
People who live right now and right here.
I want the wisdom that wise men revere."
~I Want More - Part 2
No Roots is filled with lyrics rooted in truth and "I Want More - Part 2" is especially meaningful in that regard. While Sweep knocks you off your feet and leaves you a little dazed, Miss U Less, See U More is surprisingly refreshing. "How could I continue to be the sky without my earth." So romantic...
Filled with social commentary and stories, this music is beautiful and meaningful. The wisdom reaches the heart of the matter and is very palatable in a variety of musical styles.
"You will always be a friend to me
My love persists over land and sea, through centuries"
No Roots slips and slides in musical waves that branch out into wide-open spaces of sound and becomes hypnotizing. You are not sure where one song ends and one begins as the song morphs into "Swingers" as the energy increases and the pace grows ever more rapid. Truly quite fascinating but very intense leading you into a dreamy "Pastoral." You can hardly believe the same band is producing such a variety of moods and musical places. One minute they are rapping, the next floating in dreamy soundscapes of ultimate piano perfection and then delving into club moods. This album is a much more intense album than Outrospective but has some interesting lyrics I enjoyed.
~The Rebecca Review
on June 23, 2004
in the booklet to "no roots", always-elusive faithless mastermind rollo (whom is known to some as "dido's brother") breaks down the new faithless record in a couple of very important ways.
first, he notes that, as opposed to the other faithless albums, which at times take excursions into sonically experimental territory, "no roots" was recorded entirely in the key of C, and was meant to sound as melodic as possible. not a whole lot of sister bliss's Tidy-esque nob-twiddling should be expected....though at times it's amazing to see the amount of self-restraint one imagines her exhibiting when she does get to start playing around (see the remix of "mass destruction" tacked onto the end of the album for a chance to hear her let loose and have some fun).
the other thing that's important to note is that "no roots" was approached, per rollo, as faithless's last album.
there seems to have always been a huge underworld/faithless debate. underworld gave us the tech-night classics "born slippy" and cowgirl". faithless gave us those modern hard house/trance anthems "insomnia" and "god is a dj".
however, the last missive we heard from the boys in underworld...was really quite boring, and the album actually seemed to support only two real songs.
faithless has ALWAYS kept their song-based structure, even when some of those songs (i.e. most of "outrospective") seemed lacking or stretched ("i'm the left eye/you're the right/would it not be madness to fight/we come one"???? i think we've heard that before...on EVERYTHING). here, on "no roots", it's no different. faithless tackles the threat of world war, and also maxi jazz's favorite topic, love, with a precision and restraint unlike we've yet seen on a faithless record. there's no out of place beat, no track that's on the album purely to be released as a single. everything has its place, and while it may be an easy listen, isn't it about time faithless made one album that didn't have a track with enough sonic high-end to make your dog's teeth itch?
and, in typical faithless fashion, there are a couple of collaborations with dido, which will no doubt get announced on the cover of the album when "no roots" get a US release in an attempt to sell more records, but the fact that that's not the band's choice is respectable.
if this is faithless's last call, we're left with maxi jazz's final words, a tale of street life and hardship echoing and swirling around inside a wash of bass, the same way they'll echo and swirl around inside your head. don't take the music's melodic tone as a sign the lyrics have let up on this album: they haven't. this is still the thinking person's dance act. and you'll have ideas aplenty to chew on for days after.
on June 16, 2004
With all the positive and negative hype about this cd commming out of the UK lately I wasn't sure what to expect from this cd. Wasn't sure what would come form the open door policy of this band, I was disappointed to hear Zoe Johnson was not on here and was worried about a drasitic change in direction. NOT TO WORRY! With the first play of this disc I was just blown away and knew that all was well and really goovin. New to the band is LSK leading vocals with Maxi Jazz, and as always a spot with Dido. This is indeed a rich, hypnotic and textured cd, all played in the key of c in two continous mixes. I have waited a long time for this and it was well worth the wait. These folks keep getting better with each cd, Reverance was very good, Sunday 8pm was awesome and Outrospective is one of the best pieces of music and this cd, No Roots, will def be up there on my list of favorite cd. This truely is a cd on the time and very rooted in the present, the melodies that Sister Bliss creates are just dreamy and spacious but still with a goove. Every disc from this band has a completely different feel and this is no exception, so sit back and enjoy and don't hesitate in the least to purchase this disc, its worth every penny. Lets hope these folks keep creating quality music like this for a long time to come. Oh, and another thing, be kind to animals, don't eat them....peace!
on August 21, 2004
From the official website:
"genre busting music aimed at the head, heart and feet"
Faithless, led by Rollo Armstrong (brother of songbird of the moment, Dido), has always been an outfit which stood apart from other more generic musical offerings from the mid-to-late 90's.
Like Massive Attack, Underworld, Orbital and Prodigy, Faithless have never considered themselves overly commercial and don't believe in 'selling out' to the usual contrivances and compromises of popular music production. Over the years they've enjoyed a unique position of being able to deliver a much more intelligent and mature kind of dance music, to an ever resilient and supportive fan-base, than has generally been produced by other popular DJ's and labels around the world.
My first experience with Faithless, as I'm sure many would similarly avow, was the incredible foot stomping, beautifully simplistic, ethereal anthem that was 'God is a DJ' [Sunday 8pm], I think I was at the (once) mighty Lakota in Bristol, and of course everybody in te house loved it so much that they played it twice in a row.
You can't listen to Faithless and not have a good time. I think they've had some bad rap lately, and throughout their career, for daring to have a political and moral conscience -- something that entertainers of all varieties are consistently scorned for, as if they have no right behaving and vocalizing as rational human beings who think for themselves.
Whatever. Perhaps their most recent press release tries too hard to sell us the idea that Faithless should be revered for their 'lyrical genius', it also tries and fails to explain a theory of the 'twin-concept album'. Firstly, though some of the lyrics on 'No Roots' are certainly evocative ("Whether Halliburton, Enron or anyone/Greed is a weapon of mass destruction"), or at times very thoughtful ("Your love is on a grand scale/Mine is in the details"), there are others that I definitely wouldn't equate to acts of genius, but rather the confines of a style that relies too heavily on forced rhyming ("My love persists over land and sea/Through centuries/I'll fill you up like rice and peas") -- the jury is still out on that last one. And of course, we all know to roll our eyes and shake our heads in dismay whenever we hear the words 'concept album'.
A review by Guardian unlimited poked fun at both these issues, which, though unfortunate, is really only to be expected.
Although Faithless are obviously trying to convey certain messages that they feel strongly about, what's most important in judging the merits of any music surely has to be the MUSIC itself. Future press releases might do Faithless more justice if they just follow that rule more closely.
And the music of 'No Roots', the latest album -- ranging from chilled out synthesized atmospherics, reggae inspired drum beat mantra's, to their more trademark hard-house anthems -- is an eclectic yet well weaved mix which definitely deserves all the attention it can get.
The opening track after a brief intro, 'Mass Destruction' is a curious blend of the biographical ("My dad came into my room/Holding his hat/I knew he was leavin/ Sat on my bed told me some facts") with lyrics of a more outwardly political nature ("Wether soaraway sun or BBC 1/misinformation is a weapon of mass destruction") -- 'soaraway sun referring to the UK's leading ( and utterly superficial) tabloid newspaper, 'The Sun'. 'Mass destruction' sets the pervading tone -- one of maturity, inner searching, and worldly conscientiousness.
What then transcends is a well balanced, marginally experimental album blurring musical boundaries between house, speed garage, high energy dance anthem, and chilled out drum 'n' bass, occasionally borrowing elements from trip-hop, trance, and a few less predictable sources. If you listen carefully you might recognize traces of legendary synth master Jean Michelle Jarre ('Pastoral') and even Lenny Kravitz ('Swingers').
For me, stand out tracks include the free flowing reggae styles and electronic wizardry of 'Love lives on my street'; the classic speed garage dance vibes of 'Miss U less, see U more'; the excellently channeled guitar loops, melodic chanting, and break beats on 'No Roots' -- also featuring Dido; and the penultimate 'What about love' -- with plenty of reverb and cathedral atmosphere, reminiscent of their earlier, now famous club anthems.
Overall not a perfect album -- but then that's a target which is probably unattainable by anyone. Nonetheless I would definitely recommend this to those with an appreciation or strong interest in progressive dance music. Of course, to really experience Faithless you need to see them perform live, but if this is as close as you ever get, you shouldn't feel too left out, that is, unless you haven't bought their other albums already.
on September 13, 2004
I have not heard anything that moved me like this since Massive Attack's 'Blue Lines'. This is a phenominal work, the first track captured my attention and I had to buy the album. It has been on constant rotation from my car to my cd walkman to my home stereo ever since. This is kind of trip-hoppy electro with a very organic feel to it. The beats are heavy but subdued, and the lyrical content is very powerfull. This is the kind of music that makes you open up your eyes and see both how beautifull and terrible the world really is. THIS CD IS A MUST HAVE.
I have not heard anything else from Faithless before, but I know they have 3 other albums out. I hope to own them shortly.
on July 13, 2004
I don't know if these guys can ever top the brilliance of Outrospective. It's just too perfect. I miss Zoe Johnston's chilly voice, but I am liking this album so far. Mass Destruction is solid and No roots is dense and meaty for Faithless devotees. Maxi Jazz is such an immensely talented poet and he and LSK really complement one another well. But why, OH WHY, must this disc be copy controlled????
on June 20, 2008
I first started listening to this album on a subscription service - and liked it so I bought the tracks. This is now the first album I turn to when I need a Faithless fix (although most of their other albums are not far behind).
There are no dance- or house-anthems on this disc (such as God is a DJ, or We Come One), so in that sense it's a slight change in direction. Instead, they've gone for consistency: you can play this right through and enjoy every track (a feature quite rare in albums, unless the artist is "Various").
The album has a "laid-back" feel rather than a dance or trance feel. The songs are arranged into two continuous mixes, creating a total effect that exceeds the sum of the parts: each track builds on the previous and sets the scene for the next. I like how the songs alternate between the two vocalists, creating a dialog. There are also some superb instrumental bridging passages - you never get bored listening to this album. Dido's brief performance is divine and is set perfectly in the title track, the start of a rich and captivating arrangement. I wish she and her brother would do more stuff together (another excellent collaboration is "One Step Too Far" on Outrospective).
The lyrics on this album are superb. We've almost come to expect banal lyrics in this genre of music, so it's refreshing to hear something that really adds to the music. You get the impression that the people writing this are intelligent and likeable - you want them in your living room.
This album has good staying power - I've been listening to it for a while, now, and haven't got tired of it. An easy five stars.
on August 3, 2004
At first, I was pleased with this album, as a whole, but as I listened to it more I began to realize that, musically, it's both more mature and a yet a step backwards from their previous work.
Faithless' music (lyrics excluded for now) has always been good (especially in songs with lyrics) but yet on the recent albums some of the songs have had music which is just silly. Code comes to mind from Outrospective, for example. This album has a few songs with bass lines and rhythms which are repetitive to the point of making me, as a listner, want the song to hurry up (but not enough to skip over it.) The reason I don't skip songs is that the album is divided into two parts. The music is continuous until track 7 when it stops and begins anew. To skip songs would be like skipping a movement in Beethoven's choral symphony.
However, Faithless is a techno band and, by and large, techno is a genre of silly-sounding music (Juno Reactor, Fluke, and usually Faithless stand out as bands on a short list which rise above this.) However, on this album it sounds as though Faithless has been looking to other techno bands for inspiration and there is not the musical diversity or simplicity as found on Sunday 8PM, which is the work of a master. On S8PM, most of the songs sound different, show off the band's talent as composers and Maxi's skill as a lyricist. If I were to have the band's ear for a night, I'd tell them to look into musics they've never listened to, instruments they've never heard of or seen, and re-learn music as though they have never heard so much as a bird's morning song.
This album is different from S8PM. It is as though Faithless does not approach, on this album, the human voice as an instrument. What I mean is this: Maxi's lyrics, which are very good, are often overpowered by the thump of the music. I don't listen to Faithless to hear thumping music, nor should I. If I want to listen to thumping music, I'll roll down my window and listen to the 16-year-old next to me who's blaring 50-Cent.
What I mean by the last paragraph is that the lyrics and voice do not feel as though they are in concert with the music and instead feel as though they are in opposition to it, competition with it. The listener can choose between the music or the lyrics but at not point can both be heard simultaneously.
The lyrics themselves are, as is Maxi's mark, thoughtful and deep - especially the narrative portions which are among the best lyrics on any Faithless album. However, non-narrative lyrical segments are more obvious than past albums' lyrics have been. This is not a criticism, just a note. Indeed, in times as these, it is more important for lyrics of meaning to be forthright in their delivery instead of leaving their message under layers of lines to be deciphered over multiple listenings.
This also lends the lyrics to being very topical. In "Mass Descturction," the lyrics reference Enron and Haliburton. In 10 years, Enron, at least, will be no more than an obscure footnote hinted at in one of history's many lost appendices. Might as well write a song about Martha Stewart's conviction, at that point.
Here's the long and short of what this review is meant to say: If you like Faithless, if you have been a fan and own both versions of all their albums (as I do) and/or their singles, then get this album. If you have never bought a Faithless album before and are thinking this might be a good one to get as it's their newest one, get Sunday 8PM or Reverence instead and if you like those (which you will,) come back in a month and pick this one up.