Best Albums of 2019: Sounds From The Ground ‘Binary’

Binary (Upstream Music)

Albums from ambient dub maestros Sounds From The Ground very reliably range from good to great. This year’s Binary is a great one, big in palette yet lean in sound, still anchored to ancient dub roots while travelling light years beyond it. Now in their 25th year together, Nick Woolfson and Elliot Morgan Jones gleefully mix and match instrumental colours and still anchor their downtempo exotica in the snaking, tuneful basslines they’re known for. It all works, from buzzing, squelchy robot grooves (“Blaze Mountain”) to sonorous Rhodes piano-laced lounge (“Life’s Casino”, “Felt”). My highlight is “Planet X”, a floaty minimal dub gem with a sense of humour, done as I think only SFTG could do. Accompanying its stoned, rattling loop is a movie sample face-off between what sounds like femme fatale Marlene Dietrich and a scientist trying into communicate with aliens, and it makes me chuckle every time. Very droll, and just one of dozens of brilliant little moments on an album that remind us why the duo’s widescreen electronica is so distinctive and satisfying.

Best Albums of 2019 Reviews Index

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