The AMG All Music Guide - Fallout 1

The first in a planned series of three live albums, Fallout One collects a variety of tracks, known only by numbers, from five separate live dates in 1999 and 2000 in London and Cambridge. In keeping with the trio's bent towards a variety of musical approaches, Fallout One doesn't so much capture a particular side of the band live as aim at a kaleidoscopic portrait, more than once within the scope of a particular song. Certainly that's the case with the introductory track "One," at nearly 22 minutes the longest song on the album. Beginning with a distorted vocal sample from another source and then half-understandable words and syllables from Bowness floating up through layers of reverb, everything from soft bass hums and static-laden piano to drum-machine cut-ups and random computer glitches and noises. It's an impressive performance, a good instance of electronic improvisation from performers comfortable with each other, and it sets the tone for the remainder of Fallout One. Similar elements reappear in the tracks without exactly repeating themselves, though throughout there's a very low rumble in the background of the mix providing a bed for everything else to build on. Nothing on Fallout One specifically calls to mind either Seethrough or Daylight, especially since Bowness for the most part avoids direct lyrics or singing in favor of wordless or hard to understand vocals and other electronic treatments and additions. An interesting -- if not downright nutty -- example of that comes when a soft Bowness croon on "Four" turns into a Bearpark guitar part, before a high-pitched squeal comes out of nowhere and repeats for a few times! "Six" has the clearest singing of all, but even that's cryptic enough, vocals eventually giving way to a chaotic collage of chipmunk-voiced snippets and heavily flanged static, among other things.

Ned Raggett