Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: Ninja Tune
The third proper full-length by the London DJ collective (following 1995's A Recipe for Disaster and 2000's Kaleidoscope, and not counting the mostly live on radio Now, Listen!) is very different from its predecessors, as one might hope after a dozen years. The change-a-minute beats-and-pieces approach taken on their early work, which competed with their Ninja Tune peers Coldcut for complexity and willingness to throw just about anything over a beat, has been largely abandoned in favor of actual songs and a relative degree of conceptual unity. As its Heavy Metal-ish (the magazine) cover art might indicate, this is a somewhat sci-fi album, with a movie trailer announcer's voice muttering stuff about falling stars and space on the interstitial tracks, like a sampladelic take on Robert Calvert's poetry from Hawkwind's Space Ritual.
After a thousand sweet Solid Steel mixes and podcasts, The Search Engine delivers a fatal blow to disappointment from high expectations. The first full-length since 2000's Kaleidoscope from one of the biggest names on the superlative Ninja Tune roster is, indeed, a cool record. That's not to say it's perfect. Much of its material was previously released on a series of three brilliant EPs: One Man's Weird is Another Man's World (2009); The Shape of Things That Hum (2009); and Magpies, Maps & Moons (2011).