THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCE Global Chillage (Rising High)

In the two years since its release, Mixmaster Morris a.k.a. The Irresistible Force's debut album "Flying High" has become regarded as something of an ambient classic. Weightless, almost beatless and laden with goofy meditation dialogue samples it spawned a flurry of corporate chill-out imitators, including, surprisingly, the currently clueless Orb, both with their, cough, experimental "Pommes Fritz" 'little album' and their Robert Fripp collaboration "FFWD>>", and proved that it isn't all trains and whale noises. Delayed by the almost written-into-your-contract-these-days legal disputes with his record company, "Global Chillage" is the long awaited difficult second album, and a let down it isn't.

Much is familiar: the goofy dialogue samples remain, now ripped from a Physics lecture on vibrating systems, and the music ebbs and flows as easily as ever it did through the first album - maybe not as memorable as familiarity has made the "Flying High" tracks (but then again, with ambient music, that's hardly the point), but pleasant nonetheless. But put the third side on, and wow! Progress!! "Sunstroke" is unassuming to begin with, but suddenly the scat jazz sample from hell arrives and loops around for a few minutes before becoming a fast paced beatfest (without the beats, obviously). "Snowstorm" is even better, with tiny pattering percussion eventually forming a tune that even Michael Nyman would be proud to call his own. Like the promoter in "Highway 61 Revisited", I ain't never engaged in this kind of thing before! Amazingly, Morris has shown that new elements can be added to the ambience cauldron without tipping the whole into some kind of highbrow comedy act (mentioning no names beginning with O and ending with rb). Perhaps inevitably these two tracks make what surrounds them look rather less interesting, but that's a small price to pay. As the man himself says, "It's time to lie down and be counted". Oh, and the hologram sleeve's great as well.

THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCE It’s Tomorrow Already (Ninja Tune)

In which, using the medium of his third album, Irresistible Force a.k.a. Mixmaster Morris admits/proves that the ambient bandwagon has become irrevocably derailed. Last time around (1994’s "Global Chillage") Morris took steps to revitalise his trademark formula (goofy sci-fi, meditation and drug dialogue samples, leisurely and lengthy synth collages) with a dab of scat jazz and systems music. This time around it’s drums (or drum machines) with everything, and a dearth of variety or imagination employed. It may well be tomorrow already in the canyons of Mixmaster Morris’ mind, but it sounds uncomfortably like yesterday’s news.