Faithless new album ‘All Blessed’ is a love letter to electronic music
2020 is being very tough in many ways and a real executioner for the music industry. However, the music does not stop and we have been able to witness great works in electronic dance music. An example of this is the freshly released new album by Faithless: ‘All Blessed’. Yes, it’s true, the dance music pioneers Faithless released a new LP a decade after their last studio album, which makes us all feel truly blessed.
25 years ago, the band of Rollo Armstrong, Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz presented ‘Insomnia’ to the world. The track, anthem of nocturnal restlessness, is part of their first album ‘Reverence’, from 1996. But what was that? It was the beginning of the transformation of our notion of dance music. An energetic and incredible sound, a density that kidnaps us for a journey into ourselves. Music with a message, something typical of other genres but never so well achieved in electronic music. In contrast to a more superficial EDM personality at the time, Faithless’ music contained important but pleasant messages to receive. Music with content, with soul. ‘Insomnia’, ‘We Come One’ and ‘God is a DJ’ are some of the most iconic tracks of the group that gave us 25 years of good music, featured by 7 top 10 singles, a Mercury Music Prize and multi-platform music sales totalling +15 million.
In 2011, Faithless fans suffered a massive heartbreak when they received the news of the group’s separation. ‘The Dance’, released in 2010, would be the last album we would know, but in 2015, as a celebration of their 20 years of existence, Faithless returned to console us with a super gig live in London. Their remix album ‘Faithless 2.0’ released for that occasion shipped them back to the top of the charts. That album featured big collaborations like Avicii, Claptone, Tiësto, Eric Prydz and Armin Van Buuren that presented new perspectives on the most iconic tracks by Faithless.
In August this year, we were surprised by a brand new single, ‘Synthesizer’ featuring Nathan Ball, which, apart from being an immediate success, presented itself as the preface of the new album. Last Friday we finally received the much-awaited work of the group, ‘All Blessed’ by the hand of BMG. The twelve-track album includes many power collaborations like Jazzie B, Suli Breaks, GAIKA, Caleb Femi, L.S.K., and Damien Jurado, and lays on a mighty concept.
On their manifesto for ‘All Blessed’, Faithless said ‘In this troubled and increasingly violent world, this album reflects what has always been the Faithless manifesto: be conscious, be caring, love yourself so you can love others and understand who you are and where you are. Never polemical but hopefully intelligent and (occasionally!) inspirational – this is music with feeling and words with meaning.’
This first album after a ten-year break arrives with a reorganized Faithless, without frontman Maxi Jazz, who is devoting himself to other projects. The hole that he leaves behind is largely filled in by Suli Breaks and Nathan Ball. ‘All Blessed’ is a long set, in which all songs seamlessly merge together. Let’s dive into this deep, tranced-out and balearic LP and get blessed.
#1 ‘Poetry’ (feat. Suli Breaks)
The album opens with ‘Poetry’, in which Suli Breaks is allowed to show his spoken word art. He doesn’t make you forget Maxi Jazz right away, but he pleasantly fills the gap. His voice is embedded in a warm sound and solid synthesizer, and slightly subcooled beats. Well in the style of Faithless, the track translates some of the problems of the present world into a musical protest.
#2 ‘Gains’ (feat. Suli Breaks)
The album gets going and flows imperceptibly into ‘Gains’ that might just as well have been called Poetry II. The mysterious bridge from the past to the present remains, as in the first track, as well as the corpulent voice of the English spoken word poet. We can hear the distinctive faithless synth and feel a modern, deep and warm sound.
#3 ‘I Need Someone’ (feat. Nathan Ball & Caleb Femi)
The third track is a touching recall brought by powerful voices. Nathan Ball lends his lush vocals alongside with an eloquent soliloquy delivered by the acclaimed Nigerian born, London bred poet Caleb Femi.
#4 ‘Remember’ (feat. Suli Breaks & LSK)
This is the point where the tempo changes. ‘Remember’ is a total switch from the previous ones, bringing us back to a reggae-infused dubstep. The voices are of Suli Breaks & L.S.K., and the groove sound shows that Faithless are not just ‘one trek ponies’.
#5 ‘Synthesizer’ (feat. Nathan Ball)
This one was the teaser to the album and is the absolute fire track that we’ve been waiting for. ‘Synthesizer’ is a dance hit, is full of groove and unfolds at an unexpected pace as if we were going beyond several levels of a video game. A perfect junction between the big synth riff that Sister Bliss created and the talent of the newly found Nathan Ball.
#6 ‘My Town’ (feat. GAIKA)
An emergency siren and an atmospheric and ambient feel take us further into the album. GAIKA contribution gives us ‘gothic hip hop’ in a sluggish crime track. Dancehall influences sneaking in a very cinematic sound.
#7 ‘What Shall I Do?’
This track wades into the ongoing battle over immigration, as competing voices offer antagonistic views to the issue. One says to be kind to refugees fleeing war, while the other accuses immigrants of spending public resources. A painful dichotomy wrapped up with firm industrial rhythms.
Balearic and celestial. ‘Friendship’ seems to be like one of those audiobooks to calm our spirit. A lovely voice off wrapped with deep atmospheric sounds, perfectly laired to bring us a track full of hope, love and inspiration.
#9 ‘Walk in My Shoes’
The ninth track brings a positive message to stop judging based on pre-conceived barriers such as race, religion or creed and walk in someone’s shoes. It is a poignant and timely ode to empathy, with a cheerful, soulful and anonymous voice assuming the perspective of an immigrant, defiantly declaring ‘I’m not foreign. No, I’m just human.’
#10 ‘All Blessed’
The title track starts with a piece of spoken word, after which the beats burst out and the synthesizers fan out. Quickly kicks expanding into a driving baseline, wispy atmospheric synth lines and into a drop that is reminiscent of the iconic ‘God Is A DJ’. It’s everything you want it to be and more: a piece of powerful dance music.
#11 ‘Innadadance’ (feat. Suli Breaks & Jazzie B)
‘Innadadance’ is a modern old school anthem. Perfect for the dance floor, brings a slight disco-house flavour, embellished by sexy voices. The powerful percussion and the rhythm of the drums give it a warm and exotic rhythm.
#12 ‘Take Your Time’ (feat. Damien Jurado & Suli Breaks)
The last track is an important reminder to slow down and enjoy the simple yet noble act of living. Uplifting and calming, it brings us a beautiful lesson to digest. It sounds like a very simple melody, but it is performed perfectly. A peaceful bouncer which combines the powerful voice of Suli Breaks with the somewhat veiled vocals of Damien Jurado, making them narrators of good hope. A quiet end to a musical trip.
Faithless proves once again today that anything is possible in 2020. After ten years of silence, apart from some remix work, they are still a very relevant dance act. Hopefully, it won’t take too long before big festivals are allowed and possible again because the tracks deserve to hit a festival meadow in front of a large audience.
Grab your copy of ‘All Blessed’ here and hear the twelve-track LP below.
Image Credit: Blue Laybourne / Provided by Suess Media