Be conscious, be caring, love yourself and DANCE
Forming their trio in the ’90s, the electronic group Faithless has been influencing the club scene ever since. Most recognized for their hit tracks “Insomnia” and “God is a DJ,” Rollo Armstrong, Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz continue to maintain their iconic status as electronic artists 25 years later. Although each member has an incredibly successful artistic career of their own, this doesn’t stop Faithless from getting together to produce powerful music as a group.
In 2010, they released The Dance, which was supposed to be Faithless’s final album as a trio, but with 2020 coming into play, like many other artists, they got more than enough inspiration from the year’s events. Known for implementing loving messages throughout their songs, the group quickly sought out this opportunity to give their fans some brightness. Faithless got the band back together for the creation of 2020’s All Blessed, although this time without Maxi Jazz. Rollo and Sister Bliss, however, were perfectly aware of how this would affect their sound, and they make up for it with an assortment of distinct vocal features from several artists.
All Blessed provides listeners with 12 complete tracks of dance music; the album’s sound is filled with distinctive sub-genres of club music, a combination of trip-hop, trance, house, Balearic beat and of course, classic dub. It is especially eccentric due to the several vocal features listeners find throughout the album from a multitude of British artists, such as spoken word poet Suli Breaks, alternative indie singer Nathan Ball and reggae punk artist LSK.
In speaking about the creation of this record, Faithless explained, “In this troubled and increasingly violent world, this album reflects what has always been the Faithless manifesto: be conscious, be caring, love yourself so you can love others and understand who you are and where you are. Never polemical but hopefully intelligent and (occasionally!) inspirational–this is music with feeling and words with meaning.”
This message is spread widely throughout the album as people get their first bit of inspiration from Breaks’s moving poetry presented in the first track. “Poetry” is an invasive, ambient piece that reflects the message of beauty, telling the listener to look for and appreciate the beauty found in the simple aspects of everyday life. Bliss explains about Breaks: “We asked him to write about finding poetry in every day, the ‘normal-ness’ of things and he, in turn, brought some faith to Faithless.” Between the hypnotic, trance-like progression of synths and Breaks’s unconventional vocals, this track truly provides listeners with a powerful, heart-warming feel.
One of the most impressive aspects found on the album is the flow of transitions between each track. Just as people finish “Poetry,” they listen to a fade-out of Breaks’s voice mixed perfectly to fit the introduction for the next electronically based track, “Gains.” Featuring Breaks once more, this track is an extension of the first but focuses on layering over a simple house beat, providing a mellow yet skittering dance groove for the listener to indulge.
Nathan Ball’s deep yet airy vocals on the chorus combined with Caleb Femi’s spoken-word verses make for a great pair of features on “I Need Someone,” fitting with the overall indie house vibe reflected throughout the escalating beat. The incorporation of airy, escalating instruments, melodic sounds and soothing vocals makes for one of the best songs on the album.
Listeners then enter an entirely new groove and a competitor for best track on “Remember,” featuring Breaks once more, but it’s LSK’s feature that makes this track especially noteworthy. His reggae vocals on top of a highly electronic-sounding techno beat revolutionize a new sound for those who have never experienced reggae electronica.
“Synthesizer” reflects old-school house and club, as people are incited with a distorted voice introduction only to then get hit with a beat break that brings them once more to the soothing vocals of Ball. This song presents an unstoppable groove as people follow Ball’s vocals while they escalate with the synthesizer. A listener would have to make it a goal not to move to the groove, as it is almost impossible to not dance to the beat.
The following tracks on the album all provide a specific individuality that people can’t find in any other song, with each vocal relaying a distinct message. Gaika’s mysterious, drawn-out vocals in “My Town” make for a highly eccentric, haunting song filled with the unexpected, while “Innadadance” reflects a simple classic funk highlighted through the soul of Jazzie B and the interesting deep, spoken-word introduction from Breaks.
The closing track “Take Your Time” concludes the album with Faithless’ final message to their listeners: to simply slow down, take a step back and enjoy life for the true beauty it holds as everyone’s journey is personal and individualistic, yet we can come together as a loving whole. Although Rollo Armstrong and Sister Bliss didn’t have the third member of their usual trio, this did not stop them from creating an album that would make Faithless’s last piece of work memorable and impactful to the world of electronic dance music. All Blessed is 10/10, a recommended listen.