When it comes to genre-defining albums, it doesn’t get much more legendary than New Forms. Propelling underground D&B into the mainstream musical limelight and snatching the Mercury Music Prize for good measure, the album delighted heads and newcomers alike, blending rapid drum programming with influences from jazz and hip-hop to form the perfect fusion of organic and electronic. Despite not setting out to make a crossover, Roni and the Reprazent gang certainly ended up with one.
Twenty years on, the album is getting a four disc deluxe reissue this month with the full original LP remastered, the full set of “Re Forms” remixes and most tantalisingly of all, a fresh disc featuring a live hardware mix of unreleased edits of the best tracks on the album. So how does it stand up after two decades? Pretty damn well it turns out.
The two discs of the original album have been given a fresh lick of mastering paint and are sounding just as exciting as they did in 1997, full of funky drum programming, enticing synths and classic hooks. Anyone who doesn’t get a shiver from hearing the guitar line on Brown Paper Bag just has no soul! The remixes don’t hold up as well to my ears (with a handful of exceptions) but they always felt like messing with perfection given the sheer quality of the original album.
The live hardware mix meanwhile is an absolute joy from start to finish; all of the album’s iconic tracks are there including some of the lower tempo beats and a number have been re-engineered to mash up originals and remixes, often to great effect. The new edit of Share The Fall featuring elements of Grooverider’s Jeep Style Mix proved a personal highlight amongst a thoroughly enjoyable bonus disc.
If you’re looking for the definitive version of an absolutely essential album then this is unquestionably it. Check out the first disc via Youtube below and hit up your favourite store to grab the deluxe package right now.