Artist: Way Out West
Title: Intensify
Label: Distinctive Records
By: Simon Jones and Vince Hart | 19 September 2002
  1. The Fall
  2. Activity
  3. Call Me
  4. Hypnotise
  5. Shark Hunt
  6. Stealth
  7. UB Devoid
  8. Mindcircus
  9. Secret
  10. Intensify (Part One)
  11. Intensify (Part Two)

Way Out West "Intensify"Way Out West "Intensify"

Out Now on Distinctive Records

Its been a few years since the 1997 self titled debut album from Bristol based progressive outfit, Nick Warren and Jody Wisternoff, better known collectively as Way Out West hit the music scene, giving us such hits as Ajare and the monstrous The Gift, which was used famously on an advert for the Halifax building society in the UK. Their second long player, Intensify has been long awaited and now its finally here, was it worth all the build up and anticipation? Let us find out.

The album kicks off with the harrowing vocals of 'The Fall', which takes its vocal chorus from 'Coldcut's' classic 'Autumn Leaves'. This track has been played by all the premier league DJs, from 'Sasha and Digweed' to others such as 'Anthony Pappa'. A true testament to the fact that 'Way Out West' is back, and a great starting track. From here 'Activity' kicks in, a melodic masterpiece featuring eastern pan flutes soaring above a whirling synth melody. In the murky depths of the beats can be heard a sultry moan, atop a series of percussive firings of an artillery rifle.

Moving on through 'Call Me', with its tribal intro and trippy synths, this one also offers up another sultry vocal sample, taken from recordings of hooker chat line calls, building unpredictable abstract melodies, drawing you closer, until 'Hypnotise', with its 4/4 bassline and gritty synths, shows why Way Out West are one of the top progressive acts, before breaking down into an almost lounge core vocal, laid back with subtle swirling effects.

Onward to the oceans for 'Shark Hunt' which lives up to it's title with wailing dolphins, chanting flutes, moody atmospherics, and intricate layering: a truly surreal experience. The enchanting vocals of former Opus III singer, Kirsty Hawkshaw break through the speakers on the superb 'Stealth' a laidback cinematic masterpiece, showcasing her amazing voice amongst flutes, crashing symbols and lots of subtle synth effects, a truly amazing production. 'UB Devoid' changes the mood of the cd almost instantly, a dark tribal 4/4 monster concocted from the bowels of the Far East, featuring dark atmospherics, flute wailings, and other eastern delights. Truly the devil at work. 'Mindcircus' is the second more pop-oriented track from Intensify, featuring the vocals of Ali Kenyan from Bristol, a long time friend of Nick and Jody. Piano laden, this track has crossover potential but still has that irresistible WOW trademark sound. This one is particularly melodic throughout and will have you singing along after a few listens. A future progressive 'anthem'? Quite possibly.

To bring us back down to earth 'Secret' features the best of the west and the east: wailing woodwinds and chants from the far east combined with sneaky guitar stabs and grandiose soundscapes. A breakdown ensues and the mysticism gives way to an eerie foghorn, tribal rhythms and the wailing warblings of a drowning man, fighting to escape as the bassline pounds relentlessly, before melody fights back.. And the almighty atmospheric intro of current single 'Intensify' kicks in building slowly, until a rattle of a snare gives way to a pounding dark bassline, intertwined with screaming noises and synth effects. The harrowing vocal appears out of nowhere, fighting against the chaotic mayhem and madness of the track, eventually taking control and becoming 'Intensify Pt 2' with its angelic vocal stabs, taking us away from the madness of the past 60 plus minutes, letting us relax and reflect on what has been an astounding musical journey. Well worth the long overdue wait and highly recommended. Do not miss this.

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