Artist: Hybrid
Title: Morning Sci Fi
Label: Distinctive Records
By: Simon Jones | 29 May 2003
  1. This Is What It Means
  2. True To Form
  3. Know Your Enemy
  4. Marrakech
  5. I'm Still Awake
  6. Visible Noise
  7. We Are In Control
  8. Higher Than A Skyscraper
  9. Steal You Away
  10. Gravastar
  11. Out Of The Dark
  12. Blackout

Hybrid "Morning Sci Fi"Hybrid "Morning Sci Fi"

Out Now on Distinctive Records

Symphony. A composition of sections or movements. Hybrid. Something of mixed origin or composition. They both start and end, meeting by different means, much like Mike Truman and Chris Healings, who met by chance once upon a time at a club in Swansea, and realising that they shared the same musical ideals formed Hybrid. It is somehow fitting that their first track, an orchestral breakbeat opus that for it's time was unlike any other track out there was to be called Symphony. This soon led to the album 'Wide Angle', which further developed this unique hybrid of breakbeats and orchestra, taking it to the clubs and minds of many worldwide. Throw in dj gigs in almost every city in the world, stadium tours with Moby and a live show that was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people and you can say that Hybrid's status evolved fairly quickly. So quick in fact that its taken almost five years for them to deliver the follow up album, but now 'Morning Sci Fi' is here, and it shows an older, more matured Hybrid, complete with new members Adam Taylor (lead vocals and guitar) and Alex Madge (drums). Add in a little help from their friends, including songstress Kirsty Hawkshaw, legendary New Order bassist Peter Hook, St Petersburg's acclaimed Hermitage String Orchestra and an appearance from from the poet of f*ck sonnets himself John Creamer and it all sounds a bit rock and roll doesn't it. Maybe that's because it very well could be.. or maybe it's that and a lot more..

As 'This Is What It Means' slowly emerges from the speakers, Hybrid craft a warm up groove over which none other than John Creamer explains to us about dreams within music, and what it means. It's a subtle yet surreal introduction into what promises to be an high octane 70 minutes or so, and as the first beats of 'True To Form' drift in, the mood changes straight away. A sleek percussion sits within the haunting strings and powerful vocals delivered by vocalist Adam Taylor (the first of several tracks he fronts), gradually developing into layers of understated beats that have become one of Hybrid's trademarks. However a new element is introduced as bass guitar licks are spliced into the beat patterns, provided by none other than legendary New Order member Peter Hook. The combination of beats, strings and guitar topped off by Adam's diverse vocal range showcases a deeper, more matured sound from Hybrid, and as the lead single from the album this will do well.

The heavy artillery breaks are kept rolling as 'Know Your Enemy' edges it's way in, tight compacted drum beats crashing down like an industrial machine, fading into an outer-worldly sounding break, before the returning beats raise the adrenalin level once more, toying with you as 'Marrakech' comes next. Slow shimmering beats sit at the heart of this downtempo edged cut as haunting string layers engulf the swelling groove as it drops out and returns with darkner intent, setting the mood for the next track, 'I'm Still Awake'. The dark and piercing beats of the outro soon fade to reveal a gravely vocal provided by Adam, drawing influence from the style of Thom Yorke to deliver a stunning and well delivered performance that controls the strings, guitar and orchestral grandeur which encases and captures the drama of the track to great effect. Without a doubt one of the high points of the album so far.

'Visible Noise' is perhaps one of the most traditional sounding Hybrid tracks on the album, being more influenced by the Hybrid of 'old' rather than the 'new', it's fusion of layered straight beats and breakbeat percussion creating huge drops and melodic swirls which culminate in a huge electronic breakdown before the beats return for another attack to dominate the dancefloor once more. It's a pace and intensity maintained by 'We Are In Control', which with its combination of piano and guitars sits comfortably within evolving chord and beat progression which rises and drops with menacing precision, giving way to a dark robotic vocal. Stopping in it's tracks a guitar solo takes over for a breathtaking outro which will have you quite literally salivating, with the progressive edges beats pushing things further and harder into the orchestral masterpiece that is 'Higher Than A Skyscraper'. St Petersburg's Hermitage String Orchestra turn in a sterling performance with accompanying bass from Peter Hook forming a backdrop like no other for Hybrid work their blend of dark and gritty beats into, but they do in emotional fashion that will have long standing Hybrid fans grinning with delight.

This high point only leaves one place to go, and that's down.. downtempo to be precise. Adam returns with a slightly more upbeat vocal performance on 'Steal You Away', complimenting the big strings and downtempo grooves of the track, emitting a summery vibe that wouldn't sound that far out of place on the beaches around Cafe Del Mar. The change in pace is kept slow as 'Gravastar' creeps in next, it's combination of beat layers and synth loops encapsulating the spacious melody that slices through the centre. More experimental in style than a lot of Hybrid's work to date, this adds an extra dimension to an already widely diverse album, fading into a thrashy beat groove which means one thing. It's time to head 'Out Of The Dark'. Melody lines rise out of the gaps between the dark beat patterns during the outro, ethereal sounds lending an eerie edge to Adam's delayed vocals, beats rising and keys changing in time with his voice, sweeping and dropping as the atmosphere within grows, fading out to another vocal led break, this time dropping into a menacing and sinister breakbeat outro, with spacial effects ripping the groove apart. A dramatic finale to quite possibly the standout track of the album, and a real contender for a single, if not a breakbeat anthem in the making. The final track on the album is the heartfelt emotion of 'Blackout', featuring the vocals of the very talented ex Opus III front woman Kirsty Hawkshaw. As we have come to expect from her work with artists such as BT and Way Out West, she delivers a raw vocal performance over slow tribal drums, with the backing of the Hermitage String Orchestra adding emotion and power to an already outstanding finale. Quite literally a track that would be the perfect example of what Hybrid are all about, and bringing to an end a diverse and gutsy album.

No doubt those who are hardcore fans of Wide Angle may be slightly taken aback by the darker, slower mood of the album in general, but there are more than enough moments to keep such people happy, and over a number of listens slowly bringing an understanding of what this album is to them.

It's an album that refuses to be confined to one ideal, an album that strives to push the envelope, whilst giving you an insight into a deeper side of Hybrid, revealing their influences of the past and present, and taking them in a direction which breaks through the restrictive confines of dance music, into the live arena and into the unknown beyond. It's an album that's both understated as much as it is outspoken. An album that grows. As John Creamer states right at the beginning, this is what it means.

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