All Blessed is the seventh studio album from the legendary electronic outfit.
Side-by-side with the likes of The Netherlands and Germany, the UK has long boasted one of the world’s most fertile and prosperous electronic music scenes. While Britpop, folk and rock’n’roll movements encircled, the ’80s saw raves emerge from nightclubs, warehouses and DIY festivals all across the country.
Now the scene is peppered with seminal names both old and new. Still intoxicated by the big beat revolution they initially established, electronic kingpins Fatboy Slim, The Chemical Brothers, Groove Armada and Basement Jaxx continue to navigate the space with their foot on the gas.
The likes of Floating Points, Burial, Gold Panda, Four Tet and Mount Kimbie, just to name a few, have followed, as they return the beat to the dark, dank and sweaty rooms from whence it came.
Then there’s acclaimed UK electronic group Faithless, the outfit that’s enriched the genre with a transcendent live band experience. After an extended hiatus that saw them call it a day in 2011, the band are back in the fray and have just returned with their seventh album, All Blessed.
With COVID ruling the world and plenty of other larger matters at play, the record isn’t going to enjoy the same flight path than it usually would. Yet its arrival is more important than ever – an intrinsic unifier at a time where togetherness is so difficult to capture.
“[All Blessed] is emotional but it’s also really warm; the album’s really got a heart,” Faithless’ Sister Bliss says of the record. “Something Faithless has always done in that it has quite a political edge, but it’s intimate and it has this strand of hopefulness running through it.
“It’s remembering to look for the things that are beautiful and bring great nourishment in life. Sometimes that’s all around us but we don’t have our eyes open because our noses are to the grind – life can grind us down – but if we remember friendship, the colour of the sky, and nature, the answers are right next to us to achieving some kind of inner-peace.”
Across its 12 songs, All Blessed is a house music odyssey that kindles all corners of the brain. The first three tracks effortlessly fade into one another like an extended club set enjoying its first strides.
From there, listeners come face-to-face with a bunch of collaborators. There’s no Dido, Robert Smith or Cat Power as on previous releases – with All Blessed, Faithless look to champion emerging UK talents, so we become acquainted with poets Caleb Femi and Suli Breaks, vocalists Nathan Ball, LSK, GAIKA and Canada’s Damien Jurado, as well as revered producer Jazzie B on the record’s penultimate track.
Historically, the album format hasn’t cooperated with the extended parameters electronic artists usually work by and while Faithless have experienced their own twists and turns writing to the LP format, on All Blessed, they’ve crafted a lasting journey that accompanies their house music foundation with moments of reggae, hip hop and vocal-led electronica.
“You sort of think, ‘Who listens to albums anyway – everybody listens to playlists’, but in a weird way, I think we kind of started that playlist curation with the very first album [1996’s Reverence] because it did go all over the place,” Sister Bliss says.
“You can call it a playlist basically, a mixtape, where you put your favourite reggae tune on and your favourite opera tune and then a big banging dance number and then a waltz and then Dido singing a song, but somehow it all kind of worked and hung together.
“When we play live, it’s not like a typical show – the songs roll into each other. We don’t do a song and everyone stops and everyone claps, it’s just song after song after song after song until you’re like on this crazy rollercoaster – it’s mid-set until we’re like, ‘Alright, now we’ll take the foot off the gas’, and then we rev it up for the second half.
“It’s this kind of surge which is so exciting … and I hope the album’s got those moments.”
All Blessed is out now via BMG.
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