Music Review: iiO - Exit 110 (feat Nadia Ali)
After an extended break, iiO have returned with their follow up to the hugely successful debut album, Poetica. Continuing with their electronic experimentation, Exit 110 sees the return of Nadia Ali as the divine voice of the band.
It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since iiO captured the hearts of clubbers worldwide with their debut smash Rapture. A track that has spawned dozens of remixes from the likes of Armin Van Buuren and Deep Dish. A track which, a decade on, still get heavy club rotation. Now, a decade on, we are getting new music from the band. Those looking for a rehash of old material will be sorely disappointed however. As any musical entity must, iiO have grown and so has the music. Still close to their electronic roots, it's no longer the overall ambient feel from Poetica.
The album starts strong with It'll Be Like. This is probably the closest track on the album to Poetica material we're used to. The song is captivating and enchanting. It's steady beat thumping away behind the stunning vocals. Both parts work together to capture the ear and attention of the listener.
The next three tracks More (Love Hi), All I Need and Meant to Be have quite a heavy 80s influence while still remaining uniquely modern. The seductive tones of Nadia Ali's voice and the excited energy of the music all work and fuse together to make each track an adventure for the ear. The three tracks are proof of just what made iiO such a household name.
Going sideways from the 80s style, the track I Don't Know branches off into a steady and almost tribal feel track. The beauty of the track though, is that the musical styling can't be quantified or actually defined given the fluidity of the track. It's electronic, it's tribal, it's got both a house and trance feel to it. As messy as that makes the track sound, it's actually not. It's polished perfection showing how easily the boundaries can blend.
Also on the album is P.I.C. (Partner In Crime). A track that returns to the 80s influence and even features an interpolation of Funky Town. It's a refreshing track with energy and excitement running free.
Don't Talk to Her and Fiends are not the best tracks that iiO have ever released. As much as they are exciting and energetic, there's just something about the two tracks which make them feel a little bit like fillers which isn't something that has ever been said about an iiO track before. Each track has it's own merits, don't be mistaken. They just take a few listens before they start to grow on you.
Featured towards the end of the album is Poetica II. A musical sequel to the spoken word conclusion of the Poetica album. The track follows in the same vein as the original but Ali's voice tends to be drowned out by the music which runs over the top. It does, however, lead nicely into the closing track Exit 110. The slick production and instrumental track shows that MarKus Moser can create masterpieces on his own without Ali.
All in all, Exit 110 is a great album. People looking for a mirror or reproduction of Poetica will be disappointed. The sound is similar but different at the same time. There will be those who don't like the evolution that has occurred and there will be bothers who embrace it. No artist can release the same album twice and iiO haven't either. Even if you don't have this album on your 'To Buy' list, at least put it on the 'To Listen' list.
Exit 110 is out now through made records