Organic Audio

Last One Home (Nettwerk America)

Andy Spence, a.k.a. Organic Audio, was spinning Latin-inflected dance cuts in U.K. clubs a good year and a half before Basement Jaxx broke out in 1999 with the crossover Brazilian house groove of its smash Remedy. By the time OA's spicy debut, Back to My Roots, was released in 1998, Spence had been on the club scene for nearly a decade in various incarnations. While Roots' equatorial-flavored jams proved prescient, Spence has broadened his ethnic palette on his latest, Last One Home, mixing snappy, world-music- inspired cuts with jazzy, down-tempo chill tunes.

The house anthem "Play to the Music" launches Last One Home with gritty diva vocals repeating the title line over and over as the song builds and breaks down, gliding atop a snappy acoustic guitar strum that provides an organic element among the machines and samples. A couple of tracks later, trilling electronic whistles and synthetic Latin maraca beats inform "It's Time For...," which would have fit perfectly on Jaxx's Remedy.

But amid the housier, Latin-tinged cuts is a variety of funky junk and acid jazz. "This Could Really Happen" is an example of the former, bouncing along on rubbery bass; gnarly guitar; brooding keyboard stabs; soaring, echoey horn and string lines; and a gruff-voiced soul brother. The chorus features a breathy, spacey female lyric loop that echoes the title line of the song à la the Orb's "Little Fluffy Clouds." The funk flows unabated through "Into Something," propelled by throbbing bass and various Casioesque, bubbly synth lines that bob happily along the surface, interrupted intermittently by blips and bleeps that sound as if they were sampled from '80s video-game soundtracks.

World influences and techno bombast join forces on the driving "Nurega." A wobbling, subsonic bass layered with a chiming, angular guitar riff and heavily textured industrial keyboards further foster the aggression. Meanwhile alternating male and female tribal chants and Latin percussion elements play nicely above the brutish audio warfare.

A pair of dreamy chill tracks balances such bluster. Piano and bass intertwine with haunting, drawn-out synthesizer lines and a mournful female vocal on "Autosave Us," which also features jazzy flute fills. The loping bass line, simulated sitar, and mesmerizing vocal loop of "Always the Sun" close the album with a mellow, Far East flair, completing Spence's ably navigated global musical journey.

 
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