Signal to Noise MagazineSeptember 18th, 2008
It would be unfair to ask the duo of British keyboardist John Keston and Bay Area bassist Nils Westdal to rescue downtempo and jazzy IDM from its unfortunate fate as ubiquitous background music for every cafe bistro and coffee lounge around and return it to its proper place in the clubs, but if any one disc could accomplish the task, it may well be this, the duo’s third offering. After two CDs of chilled lounge, the pair has wisely broadened their scope to include the kind of retro-electronica perfected by Boards of Canada on tracks like “Some Kind of Adhesive” and “Ultraviolet Amphibian.” But while Westdal and Keston are still more than capable of serving the usual down tempo stoned beats and lush melodies, the effect here is more sensual than sedative. Indeed, for a music that is predicated on relaxation, there is a robustness and vitality to One Day To Save All Life. Back in the ’90s, these two were members of the jazz funk trio Full Length; they’re well versed in live performance, and it shows. Westdal lays down warm, swinging bass lines that you’d be hard pressed to come up with using Digital Audio Works. Likewise, Keston’s luxuriously succulent Fender Rhodes and cascading synth progressions unfurl with elegance and flair, but more importantly he displays a compositional sense that could only have come from playing jazz and funk in a live setting. One could quibble about the grooves being too forward or not laidback enough, but that’s a minor matter. As far as I’m concerned, this duo deserves to be spoken about in the same breath as groups like the Cinematic Orchestra.
— Richard Moule
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