The outset of One Nation takes a very different course from the precedent that the Berlin/London duo have set with their previous albums. Fuzzy yet stoic drums coupled with a simple chord progression creates a sort of ceremonious beginning in the opening track "Ital," which noticeably lacks the sense of manic eccentricity the group has been known for. The album then goes forward with an equally sluggish untitled second track that is overlaid with a down-pitched vocal sample. For a band that has set the tone of their other releases with modulated sobbing or recitations of the Pokemon roster, the beginning of One Nation is rather calculated and inertialess. Despite the shortcomings of a rather long introduction, the album does pick up, but it never really loses sight of its stunted beginning.
There are noteworthy moments. The third track, "William, Shotgun Sprayer," stands up as a proper dance track with its regular beat and hushed background vocals, while the deep thumping bass in "MITSUBISHI" shows a more ambient and minimal direction. These tracks stand out not because they are stylistically unique, but because they are well-composed. There's definitely a feeling that Hype Williams would like to show more of what they are capable of doing themselves, without the extensive use of samples, but that is exactly the element that is missing here that has given past releases such an enigmatic and anarchic feel.
Indeed the flaw of One Nation is an over reliance on a palette of washed-out synths and pitch bending that becomes rather homogenous over time. For instance, when played in reverse, the track "Break4Love" shows itself to be not much more than a synthesized orchestral score and exotic women's voices. These gimmicks should be expected, of course, but it feels as though, in One Nation, that Hype Williams has released a blueprint of their own album.
Wed / 30 Mar 2011
03. William, Shotgun Sprayer
06. Dragon Stout
08. Your Girl Smells Chung When She Wears Dior
13. Untitled (And Your Batty's So Round)