September 19, 2002

Test Spin: Faultline

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When an album opens with a tune as haunting and ultimately neck-hair-straightening as “Your Love Means Everything,” it’s tough to find fault (ok, I got the pun out of the way). London-based David Kosten knows all the tricks in making a pleasant electronica album. He has an ear for the minor-key ambience of Aphex Twin’s lighter material, and the right friends to add equally chilling vocals and a healthy dose of commercial marketability. Chris Martin from Coldplay, Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips, and R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe all lend their voices to Your Love, already assuring sales in the demographics of those three bands.

And unfortunately, these vocalists actually contribute most of this disc’s merit. The six vocal-less tracks, while containing some unique sounds and stirring climaxes, act more as interludes between the guest-led songs than powerful statements in their own right. The exceptions are the title track, as noted, and “Clocks,” which serves up some musical onomatopoeia with a steady programmed beat and floaty synth strings.

As for the other half of the songs, what you’d expect is pretty much what you get. The collaborations with Chris Martin sound like the singer replaced Coldplay with a laptop. Newcomer Jacob Golden’s androgynous falsetto makes “Bitter Kiss” one of the album’s highlights. On “Waiting for the Green Light,” Vast Aire and Vordul Megilah from rap-combo Cannibal Ox prove the intuitive: rough and raw rap doesn’t mix well with Moby-esque studio polish. But after that almost torturous track comes the disc’s grandest moment. Wayne Coyne and his bandmate Steven Drozd harmonize on the epic “The Colossal Gray Sunshine,” the sort of song that reminds you of the most emotional moment of your life, and leaves you uneasy and goose-bumped for days. This song and the Stipe-driven “Greenfields” possibly make this album a must-have. The latter is a slowly lilting number that brings out what is possibly the Stipe-meister’s most captivating vocal performance in years.

Despite the album’s commanding appeal, it’s difficult to quantify its accomplishment. Its blessings and curses are like those of a compilation disc, because that’s basically what this is, and that guy named David Kosten is somehow lost in the mix.

Archived article by Ben Kupstas