in 1998 4Hero released Two Pages, which has to be one of the most brilliant jungle-based albums of the genre's career and certainly the most brilliant of that time. Two Pages, as the title denotes, was two sides of a genre. the first was mainly 4Hero's typical sound forged on Parallel Universe, filled with diluvial strings and veritable cool throughout and featured poet Ursula Rucker. the second disc was jungle as the masses had known it, albeit there was still a bit of disc one which flowed into it. in comparison to Parallel Universe and their 2001 album Creating Patterns, Two Pages can be construed as their artistic apex. the elemental separation of the group--this was physical too, since Dego McFarlane and Mark Clair had separate weights on each cd--into the past and present of jungle music fit nicely with the new fashion of moving away from the constricting, confining beats typical of genre and into more fusion territory (a la LTJ Bukem). but this album was just shy of the jungle/drum n' bass uprising that occurred between 1994 and 1997, thus missing its time in the limelight.
with that bit of contextual history dispensed, Creating Patterns strains to produce something just as illuminating and conceptually ground-breaking as Two Pages because of its truculent experimentalism. sometimes this works, but only because it references their creative apogee on Two Pages, not because they've actually burst through the limiting heavens of the genre. for example, 'Conceptions' strikes the right balance of tempo, melody, and mood. i'd go as far as to say that the song is perhaps one of the most brilliant compositions ever fathomed outside the genre. 'Twelve Tribes,' 'Time' (featuring Ursula Rucker again), and 'Les Fleurs' are on the same plane as the first song, each listen fulfilling and wonderfully harmonious.
yet those songs don't exonerate the group from what i can only describe as terrible musical transgressions and experimental misjudgments, namely 'Golden Solitude' and 'Hold it Down.' the former begins with a minute-long synth loop that would make you think your cd's skipping. the song itself is hollow--save the vocals--and lifeless compared to the pieces found on disc 2 of Two Pages. the latter simply lacks the perfected and controlled mutability evidenced on disc 1 of Two Pages, where the melodies don't stagnate and are instead kinetic, animated. another song, '2-BS-74638,' is really quite reflexive of its title. just as the numbers and letters are juxtaposed to form an incoherent string of...something, the song is confused, drowned by its dogged experimentalism.
the greatest problem i had with Creating Patterns was its insistence of breaking new ground even while old territory was still quite interesting. to my knowledge the harder, typical elements of jungle still remain the most desired. so for 4Hero it isn't necessarily about redesigning the genre once again, because they've already done it, but more about presenting themselves to a public still enthralled with an old (but still good) style. Creating Patterns isn't the work to do so. it hints at a musical scenario then clouds such a view by experimenting on the experimental.
Release date: February 18, 2003
Label: Universal Int'l
Rating: 7.0 / 10
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