Way Out West's ability to produce an artist album in a scene filled with musical...
Christian Hopwood 2002
It's been four years since we were last blessed with a Way Out West album, in fact it would be fair to say that they are about as rare as a bloody steak. Since the 1997 release of the eponymously titled album, Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff have undoubtedly suffered delays in writing this next instalment. Moving record companies from Deconstruction to Distinctive Breaks (home to the Y2K, Y3K and Y4K compilations) has provided time away from the studio for the boys to pursue other projects.
Nick has established himself, with a little help from the nice people at Global Underground and one or two airlines, as one of the key players on the international DJ circuit, whilst Jody put together the acclaimed Way Out There compilation. Now, back in the saddle, the Bristol based outfit have produced another fine slice of prog pie.
This record is a continuation, and in part, an extension of the sound that they cultivated a few years ago. Whilst it might lack the variety of the first album, Intensify offers the assurance that WOW can still rock it. Words like 'spacey', 'ethereal' and 'kings of prog' are often banded around these guys which to some might beg the question, are Way Out West the Yes of dance music?
Unfortunately, there is nothing in the box marked 'breaks and beats' to rival the excellent 'King of the Funk' from their previous album, for the most part the break beats have been left under the covers and the album primarily explores the four to the floor. Given Nick and Jody's high standards theirs is a fine take on a style that is so often simplified for chart and compilation consumption. The tough and techy "UB Void" stands out here whilst the more funky "Call Me" is reminiscent of the adventures of Sander Kleinenberg.
Trance dramatics aside, Trisha Lee Kelshall provides a firm tie to their house moorings as her vocals chisel a melancholy edge to the lush arrangements of "Mind Circus". In keeping with the current progressive trends, sweeping synth pads, dark, brooding bass lines, the odd squelch here and there as well as spacious effects give this album a wide screen, cinematic feel, the title track in particular bearing this out. Perhaps it is Way Out West's ability to produce an artist album in a scene which is filled with a gaggle of musical pretenders that sets them apart, either that or they are just plain smarter than most. All that remains to be said is 'Nice one boys, welcome back!'