For some reason, I never expect dance acts to produce good albums. For years, throughout the mid and late 1990s, Deep Dish had turned up creating dark and long house mixes of tracks by my favourite artists, and then in 1998 they finally recorded their own album, led by a single with Everything But The Girl. But somehow I still didn’t expect it to be any good.
It wasn’t until about fifteen years after its original release that I finally tracked down Junk Science, buoyed by just how good that single and a couple of the others were, and of course I was pleasantly surprised. Just a bit late to the party.
The opening track Intro: Morning Wood doesn’t bode well though – starting an album with a sort of cut-down version of another track is exactly what I would have expected. That doesn’t last long, though – and neither does the track. Before long, we’re into the brilliant collaboration with Everything But The Girl, The Future of the Future (Stay Gold), which also closed the folk duo’s 1999 album Temperamental. This version is longer, clocking in at nine and a half minutes, and is still entirely brilliant. The deep house beats with Tracey Thorn‘s vocals work perfectly together. What a song.
It’s not all deep house here though, as the dub elements of Summer’s Over demonstrate. Enormous reverb and warm warping synth sounds captivate you throughout the seven minute duration of this track, and even though it never really goes anywhere, it never stops being fantastic.
After all that, the more generic house beats of Muhammad is Jesus… are a bit of a disappointment. Much as I agree with the sentiments of the lyrics, there isn’t a lot of substance to the rest of the track. So Stranded is a bit of a surprise, a beautiful bluesy track with some gentle guitar and piano work and a great vocal. The omnipresent house beats of course take up a significant part of it, but there’s plenty of room for more soulful music here too.
The title track Junk Science makes a nice centrepiece for the album, some welcome time off work for the house beats, as this chilled out instrumental murmurs its way along. But sadly nothing else on here is really ever quite this good again – Sushi is another pleasant instrumental, this time with more of an electro feel, but it’s not quite up to the same standard. My Only Sin is alright, but it’s just a bit too repetitive to be especially memorable. This is probably the weakest track on here.
So it continues: Monsoon is a noisy instrumental with shades of drum and bass, which just drones on a bit too long to really be enjoyable. It mixes into Persepolis, which is pleasant, but also a little on the dull side, and mercifully short.
After all that, Chocolate City (Love Songs) is a bit of a surprise. It starts off by sounding like a contemporary chart dance track, before mixing elements of jazz, disco, and goodness only knows what else. It’s a fun mix, and while it still isn’t quite up to the standard of some of the earlier tracks, it does at least make for a bit of a change.
By this stage, the album is pretty much over – there’s a gentle dub version of Muhammad is Jesus…, followed by the obscurely titled Wear the Hat, which is a pleasantly punch house track to close the album out.
All told, Junk Science is a surprisingly good album, in spite of the slight disappointments of the second half, and definitely well worth tracking down. Even if you’re even later to the party than I was.
You can still find Junk Science at all major retailers.