Liquified Maintainin

Ottawa's Liquified is another project incorporating live elements with drum & bass. Liquified consists of vocalists Sacha Hebbert and Nicky Brodie, who both have a decidedly jazz-oriented aesthetic, and live guitars courtesy of founding member Roland Marckwort, aka Roh. Ian Swain, Pho is the turntablist, with Stuart Watkins doing live stand-up and electric bass. The melange is not forging any new territory per se, however, it is an impressive debut effort from this home-grown crew. Since Marckwort's background involved a ride through the indie-rock circuit, elements of that slip through in an otherwise junglist and down-tempo LP. The melodic textures of the tracks and Nicky Brodies's ethereal refrains are reminiscent of His Name is Alive, or Stereolab. Marckwort also cites Bukem and Goldie as key influences, which are evident throughout. Maintainin is an experiment in fusion, so there is always a sense of charging ahead with aggressive beats but pulling back with sensual vocals and fat bass riffs. At times, the volatility can seem disorienting. Take "Mystikal" as a case-in-point; it is dangerously slow, accompanied by Brodie's sexy and eerie voice, but it slips into an unimaginative verse-chorus-verse pattern and ends up sounding like a dreamy indie pop track. Roh's instrumental efforts are carried with great finesse and it's commendable that the various parts of the collective know when to drop out or when to break into solo mode. Though the twin vocals of Sacha and Nicky don't resonate after the tracks are long done, they carry the album further than it would go were it just an instrumental effort. (Digital Zen)