Renaissance’s “3D concept” here is an interesting one, and if there ever was a candidate suited for it, it’s Faithless. Racking up sales of a million copies of your Greatest Hits album means you can afford not to take risks, but kudos to DJ Sister Bliss, vocalist Maxi Jazz and producer Rollo for embracing the concept. The concept? This “3D” album showcases Faithless from a production perspective (in the studio), Faithless as a DJ force (at the club) and the softer, chilled side to the trio (for home listening).
The studio disc is impressively diverse. There are original Faithless productions, but also remixes, ranging from the smooth dub of their take on Tricky’s ‘For Real’ to the more upbeat dancefloor fuel of their mix of BBE’s trance anthem ‘Seven Days & One Week’. This disc is definitely not about ‘flow’ or the seamless mix; it’s a showcase of Faithless’ undeniable talents in the studio. Their remix of Living Joy’s classic mid-nineties hit ‘Dreamer’ will take you back to the good old days, but contrast it to the production behind Dido’s ‘Worthless’ and you’ll appreciate the different styles on offer here.
I’m not sure what to make of the club disc. Sister Bliss states in the sleeve notes that having 80 minutes was a real constraint, and to be honest, it’s obvious. Sister Bliss has varied tastes as a DJ, laying down a host of styles, yet she keeps the intensity high throughout. Driving hard at the outset with the chunky house of Kid Crème’s ‘The Game’, the mix later soothes with the subtle strings of Kaito’s ‘Hundred Million Light Years’ leading into Oxia’s sinister yet hypnotic ‘Change Works’ and Axwell’s mix of Deep Dish’s cover of ‘Dreams’ (a blot on their discography). These three productions sum up the disc, so very different in every aspect, yet there they are side by side, begging to be placed more rewardingly. This disc might satisfy those who want a disc full of variety, the order and ‘flow’ be damned, but for those who take a wider view, better DJs have done so much more in 80 minutes then Sister Bliss has here.
The home disc strips back the beats a little and chills the mood. Much like the club disc, this is a collection of very tasty productions lined up against uninspiring ones. Ian Brown’s ‘F.E.A.R.’ is a highlight, and Cassandra Wilson’s take on Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’ is nicely sung and placed deep into the mix, followed by the solemn ‘Remember Me’ by Todd Rundgren, the delicate production which ends proceedings. Although this disc suffers from the same inconsistency as the club mix, here it doesn’t hamper effectiveness. The lack of melody after the Ian Brown track is disappointing, as the music ventures into the deep and dubby, but it’s a smooth collection that will surely appeal to diehard Faithless fans.
Some albums you either love or hate, but this isn’t one of them. ‘3D’ contains moments I that love, and moments that I loathe, but considering that it is spread over three discs of Faithless and non-Faithless material, this isn’t necessarily a disgrace – this isn’t one of those near-perfect albums that demand to be listened to from the first minute to the last beat. The studio disc is a must have for Faithless fans as it showcases their diverse talents in the studio, and reveals some hidden gems too, but although the other two discs have their moments, they are not essential.