Perhaps realizing that jungle was not just growing uncool but turning into a creative dead-end, Coxon and Wales toned down the heavy breakbeats and unrelenting drum’n'bass on their Treader album. Yes, it’s still much more drum’n'bass than trip-hop or electronica, or anything else, but the inclusion of a few downtempo tracks (“Is,” “More Stuff No One Saw”) plus the frequent slants toward experimentalism (short bursts of noise) or classicism (chamber-quartet strings) show the pair moving discreetly away from the green pastures of their mid-’90s peak. “Winter” delves into jazz-fusion with a trumpet flourish straight out of Miles’ darker years before adding a few paranoid effects characteristic of darkstep drum’n'bass. Treader is just as impeccably produced and crisp-sounding as Coxon and Wales’ previous work (just check highlights like “Blackwater” and “Toledo”), but it has the definite sound of a transitional album. – John Bushmore »
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