(28 June 2003) One of a Kind.
This six-track release is a welcome taste of new Artefact
music. Featuring vocalist Shamangi, "One of a Kind" is
a more mature and varied album than Precious Things.
It is refreshing to see Maxim Schram and company develop the
band's sound without abandonning the elements that make Artefact such a great act. In addition to Shamangi, and
producer and composer Maxim Schram, the band also includes double bass player Thijs Willemsen and drummer Paul van Gerven.
By and large, as with the outfit's debut, the music remains within the
electronic realm. Nevertheless by drawing upon a wider
palette of instrumentation--drums, bass, and more diverse
synth samples--Artefact have actually created a more
contemporary and nuanced sound. Even the melodies are
more positive in tone.
"Little One" is a soulful song utilizing drum-and-bass
percussion and creamy synths. "The Life" is a highly
enjoyable remake of the Wendy and Lisa--former band
members of Prince--song that moves and rocks steadily.
"One of a Kind" is probably the track that stays closest
to the sound of Artefact's earlier album Precious
The addition of turntable scratches, piano fingerings
and vocal sample loops still makes it slightly more
cutting-edge. "It says it all" is a Morcheeba-esque
funky-flavored number that nicely stands out from the
other tracks. "I Just Wonder" is a terrific song blending
strings, electronic chimes and downtempo percussion.
Finally the closing track, "When Francis Speaks (Planet
Bliss 'More Karma" Remix)," is a refreshing, brighter
and more ambient remix of "When Francis Speaks" from
the debut album. Again, Artefact have shown themselves to be on the cutting edge of the electronic/pop scene.--Justin Elswick
Precious Things. No longer actively
published or promoted, Artefact's debut album Precious
Things (Alienstyle (Netherlands)
artdisc-x01, 2001) should be pursued by Musical Discoveries
vistors. Hailing from the Netherlands, electronica outfit Artefact is a band that rightly deserves serious notice.
The album Precious Things is the product of a collaboration between producer Maxim and then-vocalist Yvette Roovers (not part of Artefact any longer). Combining
hypnotic percussion and lush string and synth layers,
Precious Things is a delicious sonic feast. Although
angelic in tone, the album maintains a haunting and melancholy ambience thanks in large part to the Yvette's pristine and crystalline voice and Maxim's clever programming and arrangements.
Most of the songs rely upon minor chords and pulsing beats, creating a winning combination that will appeal to fans of Balligomingo and other female-vox electronica. "When Francis Speaks," the opening song on the album, features a captivating melody, stunning instrumentation and meaningful lyrics. In similar vein, tracks like "A Solitary Life" and "An Angel Sings" pulse and throb with elegant intensity.
The industrial-influenced "Take My Time" is a bit more
aggressive and would sit comfortably next to groups like
or Rhea's Obssession.
The dazzling "Purification" moves very close to the darkwave
spectrum--ghostly and seductive.
There's no denying that Precious Things is a finely realized and produced album. Artefact manage to perfectly balance the iciness and minimalism of whirring electronica with the heat of passionate lyrics and vocals. An excellent listen from start to finish!
Artefact became the best new Dutch act by winning "De
Grote Prijs van Nederland", the most important music
contest of The Netherlands. Thankfully, Artefact appear to
be gaining the attention they so justifiably deserve.--Justin Elswick