Ready To Dance
Sometimes dance music albums can sound a little repetitive to the untutored ear and this one very nearly falls into that stereotypical trap. However there is enough going on to keep your ears on their toes: do ears have toes? You get what I mean!
This nine-track offering from Juan Maclean is an exciting combination of robotic vocals and a mishmash of interesting and eclectic sounds and influences. It falls into that bracket of music for late nights as it encapsulates the post-night out feeling of being fired up when you walk through the door but after a while the adrenalin starts to calm down and before long you're monged out on the sofa only to be woken up by the cat. Maclean doesn't give out free feline companions with every CD but the rest of that analogy is provided on 'Less Than Human'.
The first half is a funky, disco, sometimes jazzy mix of beats with electronic bleeps and effects you might find as the score to a computer game. Added to this are keyboard hooks that sound as if they've come from the Oakenfold, perfecto school, or that remind you of acid house, 'Shining Skinned Friend' and 'Give Me Every Little Thing' are prime examples there of.
Like the tide turning and a fresh breeze cooling down a hot summer day as evening is approaching, track five, 'In The Afternoon', retains the funk of the first few, but it has an overall more chilled and laid back feel to it and is a sign of what is to come throughout the remainder of the record. The second half is altogether more relaxed and this is where the danger of it becoming samey is a threat, although luckily is never quite realized, the high point of this half is 'My Time Is Running Out', which when listened to at full volume or on headphones carries you away into your imaginary paradise as all classic chill-out tunes should.
This is the kind of dance music that you'd be very tempted to stop and take a closer look if you heard it coming out of a tent at a festival. Unlike many albums of this kind, 'Less Than Human' isn't dependent on samples and uses a substantial amount of extra instruments aside from the synthesizer. The inspiration for this record can be found throughout the past thirty years of electronic music, Kraftwork being high up the list, but for a piece of work that has clearly been produced with a broad base of other artists in mind, it genuinely stands alone in that it doesn't directly sound like anything or anyone else.