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Juno Reactor | Labyrinth | review | electro | Lollipop
Juno Reactor's sixth album, Labyrinth, continues the world music fusion that is uniquely Ben Watkins. The new album contains two tracks from The Matrix film series, "Mona Lisa Overdrive" (named after the William Gibson novel) from the freeway chase scene in The Matrix Reloaded, and "Navras," a remix/reworking of Don Davis' "Neodämmerung" from The Matrix Revolutions.
With only nine tracks, Juno Reactor continues a history of albums that are short and to the point. Watkins also continues his trend of collaboration, this time with artists like guitarist Eduardo Niebla, vocalist Taz Alexander, and percussionists Maji Thobejane, Nick Burton, Greg Ellis, and Budgie, of Siouxsie and the Banshees, on "War Dogs."
Opener "Conquistadore I" begins with haunting tubular bells that set the deliciously moody scene for the lyrics, selected from "Dies Irae," a mid-13th century hymn from the Requiem Mass. Niebla's guitar and Alexander's vocals form a romantic union that contrasts nicely with the EBM-driven madness that follows in "Conquistadore II."
Nearly every track is strong, but the highlight must be "Navras." Navras is a Hindu word that describes the experience which brings about the states of transcendental bliss. The lyrics were taken from the Upanishads, ancient Hindu religious texts. Instrumentally, the song begins with a powerfully stated Orff-like choral verse backed by Russian-influenced orchestral work, followed by a Middle Eastern/Asian strain on the flute that provides an emotional reprieve before the epic finale.