ATF Review: The Prodigy – Fat of the Land

Location: Braintree, England, UK
Genre: Electronica, Breakbeat, Industrial
Relased: June 30, 1997
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: All-Time Favorites

By: Kris Kotlarik

Electronica music is something I’m not particularly fond of. I tend to call it “wankboxing,” otherwise known as “some idiot masturbating on a keyboard,” which is an admittedly ignorant stance. When I do like an electronica song/artist, it needs to make sense to me; it must be energetic (sorry, chillwave/ambient), yet coherent (and goodbye to dubstep, which originally earned the wankboxing moniker). Mindless nonsense also need not apply. If you like a mainstream artist that largely uses electronic elements and is basically described as a “club artist,” I probably hate that person.

So that narrows out a lot of electronic music for my picky mind. After all, I do prefer to hear humans playing human instruments. But there are some bands that got it right. Fatboy Slim nailed it on more than one occasion. Nine Inch Nails did it on a much more consistent basis. But for one album, The Prodigy put it all together. And that album is The Fat of the Land.*

For starters, the singles are spot-on; no three tracks better represent this album than the classic and infamous “Smack My Bitch Up,” as well as “Firestarter” and my personal favorite, “Breathe.”  All three do a unique job of capturing the kind of energy that I look for in an electronic track, but “Breathe” is something special. Theoretically, the beauty behind electronic music lies in the ability to create a mix that otherwise can’t be created using other means. The mix to “Breathe” is particularly memorable, with different sounds bouncing to different channels throughout to keep an already-interesting song even more attractive to the ear. Especially of note is the chill-inducing breakdown towards the end. “Smack My Bitch Up” also has a memorable breakdown with some enchanting yet haunting female vocals, while “Firestarter” is just…fun. Ridiculously fun.

If you’re looking for a full breakdown, you won’t find it here; in short, this simply does it for me. It’s technically sound and sonically pleasing to the ear, perhaps in large part due to its hip hop influences, as seen on “Diesel Power” and “Serial Thrilla.” There’s also the psychedelic trip of “Mindfields” and “Narayan.” The lyrics here are nothing to write home about, but that’s not really the point. The replay value on this thing is almost off the charts because of how fun this is. And while there is a lot of sampling here, it is tastefully done, unlike the numerous and onerous ripoffs we find ourselves facing in modern times.

Overall: If anyone knows of more electronic music like this, come find me. 

Rating: 4.5*

*I’m also planning on doing a review of their newest album, The Day Is My Enemy. We’ll see how that works out for me.


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