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2020 Soundsystem Falling Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Music with global appeal, in terms of its scope and ambition.

Alistair Lawrence 2009

Since debuting with No Order two years ago, the live incarnation of Leeds based electronic music collective 2020 Vision has set tongues wagging or lolling in a muddy field on the live music festival cycle; which is fitting, as this is music with global appeal, in terms of its scope and ambition. Rather than fall into the trap that some artists set for themselves when they try to cross boundaries and do it clumsily, or self-consciously try new things, 2020 Soundsystem have always had a transgressive approach and that makes the little, new-ish things that they try with Falling a success.

Opening track We Get Down arrives somewhere beneath a police siren and a delicately picked out riff that just might be borrowed from Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine. What follows isn’t nearly as aggressive, but they somehow make the breathy vocals (that are present in much greater abundance this time around) and clicking, popping score avoid a nosedive into becoming insipid background music.

Perhaps this is because 2020 Soundsystem never stray from the ideal that this is music for live performance. At times Falling descends into minimalist fare – Broken bubbles away, deliberately failing to ignite – but these moments are usually followed by something with a more recognisable song structure, like the plodding, obstructive beat of Ocean and the vocals that fittingly re-emerge to wash back over it. Only final track Way of Life exceeds seven minutes, too, which is unusual for an album dominated by ambient tracks. If most of their music continues to be born out of jamming, this shows even more remarkable restraint.

The most heartening thing about Falling is that it arrives, introduces itself and makes off without the slightest hint of pretention. The next closest soundsystem, LCD, has triumphantly crossed over into writing pop hits, which leaves 2020 pleasingly out on their own. It’s not surprising, for such an unlikely collision of like minds, but with dance music circles ever decreasing it’s still unexpected. Who knows what they’ll do next, but on this evidence it’ll be interesting and entertaining.

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