Why Goldie’s Timeless is the Perfect Winter Album
Cueing up the sweeping arctic synths of the first and title track instantly transports me from the LA sunshine to the cold of a rapidly wintering Britain in 1996, when I moved there from my childhood home of Hong Kong.
Timeless came out in 1995, but by the time I first heard it one year later it had cemented its status as that rare musical find: a landmark, almost universally-praised drum ‘n’ bass album.
Throughout the album, winter is all around. Icy synths sweep across the frozen landscape and freshen your headphones. Rolling jungle breaks skitter and stutter through your head as pointed twigs poking through fresh snow. Reversed snares skid on frosted sidewalks. All of the vocals shine like street lamps on a cold, jet-black English winter night.
With the title track being an eighteen-minute glacier of a tune and split into three parts, this is an album that, like winter itself—despite the breakneck speed of the drum breaks and far from the sugar-high speed of summer—takes its time. Occasionally it veers into sentimental ballad territory, as on third track “State of Mind.” However, this respite from the angry avalanche that is the intro to second track “Saint Angel” is welcome, like seeing a house decked out in bright Christmas decorations on an otherwise freezing night in December. (The stirring double bass line throughout “State of Mind” is a hearth of audio warmth.)
At the beginning of fifth track “Angel” we hear the strains of wayward seagulls, lost from first being heard in the middle of fourth track “Sea of Tears,” who start to pick at a plastic-covered Apache beat. On seventh track “Kemistry,” at precisely one minute and 11 seconds, the drips of an ecstatic piano line instantly transform into icicles. At the 5-minute mark, a bass synth drops that sounds like the churn of a Nissan Micra on a sub-zero street.
If you’re listening for the first time, I envy you.