"Re-conditioned" (Album, 2010) !DSO Recommended!
In this musical age of low quality thresholds, proliferation and instant gratification, niche UK label Rroopp proudly sticks out as the complete antithesis to this overwhelming morass of mediocrity. Specialising in releasing landmark compilations of artists’ singles, out-of-print, and unreleased material, Rroopp is dedicated to celebrating those who make their mark just below the mainstream radar. They've released just three albums (including this one) since 2006, each one a lovingly researched, collated and extensive, 3-CD record of each carefully chosen artist. (The first was the Yellow6 set The Beautiful Season Has Past, followed by Amp’s All Of Yesterday Tomorrow in 2007.)
This epic, 44-track compilation is Appliance’s first release since the Are You Earthed album and follow-up single Go Native in 2003, a four-fold digipak that’s an absolute must-have for any Appliance fan. Moreover, it’s easily recommended to those less familiar with the British three-piece. The band released three 10” EPs between 1997 and 1998 on various independent labels before signing to Mute Records in 1998. Re-conditioned unifies many of the band’s most precious moments. CD1 features all four Peel Sessions recorded at BBC’s Maida Vale studios between 1998 and 2002 and includes the previously unreleased track Electra. CD2 spans six years of B-sides, unheard demos and other rarities, whilst CD3 features the three pre-Mute EPs, two of which are available here on CD for the first time.
Appliance had an innate quality, inexplicably never quite enjoying the rewards they deserved based on the strength of their work. Although they were often mentioned in the same breath as several post-rock contemporaries, theirs was always a distinctive fusion of influences and styles. Perhaps too niche to garner the recognition and success they clearly warrant. There’s over three hours of music here (much of it instrumental), yet there are no tracks you feel the need to skip; and this coming from someone who never previously owned an Appliance record.
This is the perfect showcase for their gloriously sumptuous sound, from its early low-fi guitar, drums and bass line up, through their fondness for repetition and experimentation, and onto their more complex, multi-layered synthesised sound. I’m not especially partial to Appliance, yet even I, when listening to the unpolished demos and B-sides brought together on disc 2 (usually firmly the preserve of fanatics) readily appreciate just how damn good these guys were and still are. 8/10
Rob Dyer (November 2010)