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Ian Astbury - Spirit/Light/Speed (Beggars Banquet)

Ian Astbury is no stranger to alternative techno music. Aside from the techno influence that was evident on The Cult's last album, he also provided vocals on one track for rave band Messiah's "21st Century Jesus" and his voice was sampled on CNN's infamous 'Young, Stupid & White'. So, it is no big surprise that when he finally got around to recording a solo album, techno music would play a big part in it.

However, he hasn't done anything sad like bring William Orbit or Fat Boy Slim in an attempt to create something trendy and chartworthy. Instead, this is the sound of a musician playing around in the studio with a lot of different elements, in a way that fairly removed from what he normally does with The Cult. 'Back on earth', for example, is a fairly Stonesy track, featuring an "ooh, ooh" backing vocal straight out of 'Sympathy for the Devil', combined with a fairly hard-hitting dance backing not a million miles away from Moby's version of the James Bond theme. 'Devil's Mouth', on the other hand, is very close to Chris Connelly's (Revolting Cocks, Damage Manual) quieter moments, backed with a wall of strings. There's also an updating of The Cult's first foray into techno, 'The Witch, which is far superior to the original.

All in all, this is the sound of Ian Astbury's instantly recognisable vocals, without the big leather trousers and hairspray rock bullshit (no "Baby, baby, baybeee!" on this). He sings, sometimes softly, sometimes more forcefully, but it's always him. This is also, thankfully, free of Billy Duffy's windmill guitar-wanking. This is nothing groundbreaking, but it is a fairly enjoyable updating of the beast that is Ian Astbury. The only question that remains is whether this is intended to be a purging of his dance music inclinations, or whether this stuff will be an element of the new Cult Rising sound. Time will tell, but here's hoping it's the latter.

by Donnacha DeLong

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