Reviews – Prime Numbers


The year ended well with a number of commendations and citations in top 10 lists for albums of the year. This included 8th album of the year recommended by the Birmingham Evening Mail.


From Birmingham and begining to build a solid reputation with singles like Londinium, they seem to start from Chrissy Van Dyke’s lyrics, building proper tunes using drum ‘n’ bass and some R ‘n’ B to back it up. They succeed: the songs structure affects the loops and the beat drives the singing to produce weel-integrated music that bears a lot of listening. The lyrics are sharp, the vocals are lazily delivered, but a lot of effort has gone into them. The rhythms, from Octoman (Alan Rowe) and James D, punch and add excitment without getting in the way. The one instrumental, Bluesman, is great – a fuzzy electric piano workout which catches its breath halfway through to let a sax float. The plan works on slower songs too: grabby, not flabby. Altogether, very good listening and it sounds like they’ve got ideas left over. One to hear.


This debut album from Birmingham’s Plutonik, like Lamb’s Fear Of Fours, drives drum ‘n’ bass into new directions. The rhythms lend themselves so well to any style of production, we can no longer pigeonhole the music on the types of beats. Jazz, funk, soul and dance are all here, happily coexisting as one whole. Sitting On Top Of The World is one of the strongest on the album, followed byThat’s Not All There Is which could masquerade as a Bond soundtrack. Following these two gems is an album’s worth of very competent and sound production with some lovely little tunes. Strong music, rolling beats and saintly vocals. It’s hard not to like it. 8/10


The logical meeting point of AirMorcheeba and Massive AttackPlutonik have a lot to offer the post-clubbing generation and chill-out room. Staunch proponents of the Bristol sound, the Midland’s based trio show a canny understanding of mood music allied to more than a passing acquaintance the drum ‘n’ bass. Not entirely original, the band nonetheless ploughs a subtle furrow away from Britain’s previous Dance luminaries.
In a debut album featuring instrumentation that ranges from tabla to violins and from cello to saxophone, Plutonik weave together an unusual but intriguing tapestry of tracks. Off-key and often out of sync rhythmically, many of the 11 tracks on Prime Numbers have an odd and exploratory feel to them. Numerous Jazz influences also come to the fore, but the underlying mood remains melancholy.
Thanks to the unusual but hypnotic vocal talents of London-born Chrissy Van Dyke, a sort of cross between Shara Nelson and Nicolette, the beats of Alan Rowe and the keyboard skills of James D,Plutonik frequently soar. This is nowhere more apparent than on the opener Sitting On Top Of The World, the first single and an atmospheric Ambient number as chilled as it is beat-laden. Following hard on it’s heels is the storming That’s Not All There Is, a hard-core drum ‘n’ bass number which, while sounding slightly out of kilter, blasts away the cobwebs. Also well worth it’s weight in gold is the Hendrix-inspired Bluesman, which begins with a classic guitar riff before drifting into a delicious Dance groove replete with psychedelic organ interludes and a good deal more. Rehab is a floaty, Soulful warble, set to a careering bassline beat, and Trust kicks off with its Eric B And Rakim I Know You Got Soul break beat before turning into an almost classic Young Disciples-type number.Londinium ain’t half bad either. Not an immediate winner, but ultimately Prime Numbers creeps up on you as stealthily as a stealth bomber on International Stealth Day. And before you know it, you’re kippered, hook, line and sinker.
(HI-FI WORLD – SEPTEMBER ’99) Number 1 in the top five albums.


Like Portishead’s Dummy, this debut from Birmingham’s Plutonik aims to haul the torch song up to date, setting its angsty female vocals against a fluid drum ‘n’ bass backdrop. They’re intermittently successful, creating bleak urban moods on tracks such as Londinium, while Chrissy Van Dyke is a voice of real quality, even if her melodic gifts tend to get dissipated in the sonic backwash.


Here’s a short sharp shock to those who thought drum and bass has run out of steam. This album is one of the most talked about debuts in a long time and was Tower’s fastest selling album last week. Plutonik hail from Birmingham and they are going to be massive. Comparisons are being made with Portishead and Tricky. What these two acts did with trip hop, Plutonik are doing with d&b. Their secret weapon is the amazing voice of Chrissy Van Dyke – steeped in jazz and blues influences, her dark lyrics are the effective vehicle for the cool musical accompaniment. Rhodes piano, great understated guitar work and basslines which combine the jazzy side of Roni Size and the sub shudders of OpticalPrime Numbers gives d&b jazz diva Nicolette a run for her money, it’s even a match for Bjork at her most modern. Drum and Bass for Plutonik is more a vehicle than a lifestyle, the hanger for their musical tailoring. I Dream is simply a classic torch song, reminiscent of David Bowiein his Station To Station period, fleshed out with James Bondy riffs. Jealousy is a coruscating dissection of that most selfish of emotions.
So many of Chrissy’s lyrics are written in the first person that the cumulative effect is beguiling. Recent single Londinium is the grown-up big sister to a current chart hit, a more reasoned critique of our capital. Closing ballad Sister is lovely: acoustic guitars, a trip hop beat and Chrissy’s best vocal. Again the lyrics are deeply personal and all the more effective for being so…. Plutonik are the find of the year and their future is exceptionally rosy.

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