Sunscreem, Ten Mile Bank

Sunscreem had some success in 1993 with dancefloor hits 'Pressure Us' and 'Love U More' but soon sank from trace, despite releasing one of the best albums of the decade (in any genre) a few years later—the eclectic and infectious Change or Die. The usual label hassles ensued, keeping their follow-up, Out of the Woods, out of the CD stores, nightclubs and stereos. Fans keeping an eye on their website, though, were treated to New Dark Times, a solid selection of instrumentals plus the vocal track 'Who Will Love Me Now?', as well as a remix album, Looking at You; and, in 1999, Music for the Screemillenium, an album's worth of b-sides, remixes and demos released one mp3 at a time at the fan site screeming.com.

Then, at the beginning of the Screemillenium proper, nothing—apart from an overseas single now and then. Surely we wouldn't be forced to go a thousand years without more of the best music the synthesiser has ever served up? Nope: two years on, we can finally hear the next official Sunscreem album, Ten Mile Bank.

Not having heard the 'lost' Out of the Woods I can't say how different Ten Mile Bank is from its early draft, but in any case it's a corker. After opening with a reworked 'Who Will Love Me Now?' which segues into 'Cover Me' from Looking at You and Screemillenium, it's a few tracks before we hear something entirely new, but it all blends beautifully: Sunscreem have always managed to capture a timeless quality in a musical genre that dates faster than cheese.

Lucia Holm's angelic voice is used as wordless instrument as often as a vehicle for lyrics, as 'Change', 'Catch' and 'Falling' all demonstrate. A Sunscreem album is more a continuous instrumental with occasional bursts of melody and words than a collection of songs, but it never wanders off into boredom or loses the beat. By the time Ten Mile Bank reaches one of its best tracks, a cover of Joan Armatrading's 'Walk Under Ladders', the long build-up has given it even more weight than it would have as a stand-alone. Two mixes of 'Coda' (more Screemillenium) and the single 'Please Save Me' round the album off nicely, and leave you ready to head right back to track one.

So, where does it rate in the sadly-neglected Sunscreem oeuvre? Well, it doesn't have the sheer exhilaration of Change or Die, and it doesn't have a single to match 'Love U More', but Ten Mile Bank is a worthy complement to the first two albums, and more than fills the promise of the interim compilations.

The only problem is that it's hard to find, if you're depending on regular retail channels. Luckily, the band's site comes to the rescue, provided you're prepared to shell out twelve quid plus P&P. I reckon it's worth it, but then I already love them; if you don't yet, you can sample one of its tracks, 'Cover Me', at the Screemillenium download page. Or pick up Change or Die second-hand and wonder what all the fuss about Leftfield and the Chemical Brothers was about, when there were guys like this dancing away in the background.


First published in Records Ad Nauseam, 23 November 2001.
This page: 26 November 2001.

©2001 Rory Ewins