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"Colours" released in 1997 is the debut album by Adam F (the enigmatic "F" stands for Fenton). The tracks generally meld effortlessly into each other to create a very consistent album and a smooth listening experience, although it can become tricky to distinguish the end of one track and the beginning of another. The album is characterised by mainly soulful and often jazzy electronic soundscapes with some drum n bass. The drum n bass beats on offer here are not that progressive and lack the complexity of say 4hero or Goldie at his best, but the strong atmosphere crafted on most tracks really stands out.
Here is a rundown of each tune:
1. "Intro" - 1:03
An echoing trumpet and a brief sample of a police siren give way to wah wah guitar funk and 70s style hi-hat drumming, creating an atmosphere that wouldn't sound out of place in the film "Shaft".
2. "73" - 1:28
Leading on from the intro we get drums combined with bongos and eventually a jazzy muted trumpet performance. The insistent drumbeat gives the impression of the track building up to something - the 3rd track "Metropolis". With the track length under 1:30 this is really just a continuation of the intro.
3. "Metropolis" - 6:31
Before drum n bass fans start getting confused and disappointed with the album we finally move into darker territory with this moody, desolate track. Sadly the digital sound effects used have not aged well and the track sounds dated. The main drum n bass beat is repetitive and never changes although it is layered with other beats and percussive elements to add some much needed variation as the melody is pretty non-existent.
4. "Music In My Mind (Album Version)" - 5:18
A slightly cheesy vocoded vocal mars this jazzy relaxing track featuring flute and trumpet. The track changes noticeably at 3:13 with soulful synths and electric guitar licks emerging from the sound of crashing waves. At this point there also appears to be a timing problem with audible percussive clicks in the background seemingly out of synch with the track. It is a shame that this was not corrected but I can overlook this because of the extremely chilled vibe created here.
5. "Jaxx" - 5:08
An eerie synth (reminiscent of Goldie's Inner City Life) and the sound of twittering birds combine effectively to create a spine tingling, highly evocatively atmosphere. The sound of breaking glass then kick starts a fairly repetitive drum n bass beat layered with percussive elements in a similar manner to the "Metropolis" track, combined with dated effects.
6. "Mother Earth" - 5:03
This is definitely one of the more interesting and less conventional tracks on the album for me. It starts with an answer phone message from Goldie asking Adam F for some tunes - a snippet of this is looped inventively later in the track as a vocal element. A few simple synth notes and a digital beat interspersed with a muted trumpet sample get the track moving and a dizzying array of sound effects and samples gradually builds up the complexity. This then melts into a very dreamy atmosphere and ends with a complex percussive beat.
7. "The Tree Knows Everything (Clean Edit)" - 4:27
This is another album highlight for me featuring the vocals of Tracey Thorn from Everything But The Girl. Nostalgic pad sounds and guitar licks are fused with a drum n bass beat that skips along as the vocals reminisce: "Looking back on the memories and the way we used to live, I remember that old sign to London by the river 'cross from the bridge." This is one of a few tracks on the album with a strong vocal element, giving the album an extra dimension.
8. "Circles (Album Edit)" - 7:14
"Circles" is one of the better-known tunes consisting of a simple but catchy upright bass line and a head-nodding drum n bass beat. Electronic synths create a really spacey mood as the track progresses and an interlude with a different beat breaks things up nicely.
9. "Dirty Harry (Grooverider remix)" - 6:49
Returning back to the 70s theme from the intro track, we get a guitar funk driven drum n bass track filled with beautiful and delicate background sounds to create a very memorable soundscape. Despite the pedestrian beat and unprogressive melody, the soothing blend of flute, sax, rhodes, percussion and other effects woven together make this an enjoyable listen.
10. "F-Jam (Album Edit)" - 5:52
A party drum n bass track featuring the vocals of MC Conrad with a muted trumpet for a jazzy feel.
11. "Colours" - 5:37
This track shares the same name as the album itself and is one of the better tracks in my opinion. It is a conventional jazz instrumental consisting mainly of rhodes and electric guitar but the organic performances are warm and mellow, inviting repeat listens.
12. "Aromatherapy (Edit)" - 7:03
The final track is a bonus track that adds nothing to the album for me. It sounds like a "filler" drum n bass track that lacks the depth of all the other tracks - if it was removed entirely from the album, the omission would not be noticeable.
"Colours" is a relaxing listening experience that takes you on a journey from one atmosphere to another. Some tracks may be starting to show their age but each track blends effortlessly into the next to create a cohesive album. Fans of electronic music, jazz or drum n bass should find something to enjoy here given the variety on offer and anyone else might be pleasantly surprised.
[Also reviewed on Ciao and Epinions]
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Seventy Three
4 Music In My Mind
6 Mother Earth
7 Trees Know Everything
9 Dirty Harry
10 F Jam