I pose this question because I recently received a review copy of the 20th anniversary edition of Senser's Stacked Up, appropriately named Stacked Up XX, and I wonder if I am the right person to review it.
After my first listen I realized I probably had to dive into a bit of research to get into the correct headspace and try to understand why it was being re-released. I read the band's Wikipedia page but Simon's review for the Monolith (link at the bottom of the page) was probably the most helpful thing I read. I'll even venture so far as to say that if you are reading this before hearing the album for the first time you must read his review too. Simon was 17 when the album came out and he represents the "returning fan" demographic so we come to this album with a very different state of mind. While I agree with a lot of his points I have to say I didn't really connect with the album that much. The music is more trip hop and industrial influenced than I expected and the vocals, both rapped and otherwise, ended up being mostly good. The first two songs, States of Mind and The Key, are fantastic openers and actually got me really excited for the rest of the album. States of Mind's beginning could easily fit into some Mike Patton fronted project but then again...what couldn't these days? It's moody, strange but, most importantly, really cool. When the 90s guitar riff and laughter came in I started doubting my choice to press play (mostly the laughter though) but the rapping was solid enough to keep me at it and I'm glad because the song has some great psychedelic sounding parts that tie it together beautifully. The Key follows it up with some dreamy soundscapes that give way to a barebone beat and rapping. This is punctuated with odd, almost Primus-esque, guitarwork that keeps you on your toes until they throw in the dreamy sounding part again except fully realized this time around. The second half of the song goes all-out, closing this dynamic duo off with some tasteful experimentation.
So far two for the hitlist and two for the shitlist but let's keep going, this wasn't meant to become a track-by-track review.
Some of the songs end up being a bit longer than necessary considering the small handful of parts they tend to contain but even those songs usually have some very strong points. They usually arrive when the female vocals get to shine but that's not to say the rapper is bad. Perhaps he had a bit too much to say considering the handful of parts some of the songs included but at least for me it didn't really work. I feel like an important thing to mention is the fact that I do enjoy both rock and rap and while rap is often associated with minimal variety instrumentation and a dude (or dudette) ranting on top of it I tend to rather go for a nice balance of the two. There are certainly songs (like the first two tracks) that really go for broke in that area with fantastic parts and tasteful rapping, i.e. they know when it's effective (because he can be very effective at times) and when to let the MC back off for a moment or sing along with the female vocals.
As I haven't listened to the original I can't comment on the remastered sound but the added bonus of a second CD is something I can talk about. For a returning fan the prospect of hearing songs that would have ended up on the unreleased follow up to Stacked Up is probably exciting but ultimately disappointing as they're mostly pretty lackluster. The CD is mostly composed of remixes though and they're honestly a bit hit and miss for me at least.
In the end I'm not sure what more I have to say, I don't love the album and I don't hate it. There are great tracks on it that I'll keep listening to but although the album wasn't a bad experience overall it doesn't do much for me. Then again, like I said in the beginning, I'm not really the demographic. For that point of view I direct you to Simon's aforementioned review for The Monolith:
Whatever your response is that's just, like, your opinion...man.
States of Mind