If you drew up a graph with Hip Hop on the X axis and Ambient on the Y, a survey of the tracks on Forms would end up with dots scattered pretty close to the diagonal, although as is usual with these things it doesn’t offer anything like the full picture. At this point I was going to throw in some words like ‘median’ and ‘curve’ to show that I knew what I was talking about, but the Wikianswers I landed on had an advert for Mature Dating in the middle of a School Subjects page, so I’m not sure how trustworthy it would have been. Anyway, suffice to say that some of the tracks on Forms are ambient, and certainly beatless, whilst some are all about the drums. What’s most impressive about this album is that neither style feels forced or out of place.
Forms opens and closes with the most blissed-out tracks, all Rhodes-y sounding keyboards and atmosphere, similar in a way to the sound that Global Communication carved out for themselves on the likes of “Maiden Voyage” and some of their remixes. The title track eases the listener in gently with these long, drawn-out, tones and effectively creates the environment for the rest of Forms, which is similar in tone, but with more rhythm. The first drumbeat doesn’t appear for some seven minutes into the album, on the laidback “Floating”. The Maidu is the recording alias of Cliff Hudson, who’s billed as a bassist by his record label, but I suspect he’s playing the drums (or sampling his own kit) on these tracks rather than crate-digging. He’s not a flashy bass-player either, content to let his main instrument take a backseat here.
For a debut release, Forms is remarkably fully, ahem, formed. Hudson has a strong grasp on breakbeats but keeps things interesting and doesn’t settle for one style here; “To Mars” is an old-skool ambient jungle track, the likes of which I haven’t heard for a while. “Mantra” could fit neatly onto a Cinematic Orchestra album without a worry. “The Frame Of Reference” pootles around like the start of In A Silent Way before the drums give it some structure with a guitar and bass looping for added effect. The variety keeps Forms fresh without any significant stylistic departures, and it benefits from a thoughtful track sequencing, with the music rising in intensity and then ebbing away across its duration. It scarcely puts a foot wrong, in fact – never mind the graph, this is off the charts. (Jeremy Bye)