Soundtrack For Life is an ambitious title. How can one artist craft a soundtrack to fit all of life's moods and quirkiness? It's theoretically impossible, but A:XUS creates a fluid soundscape with this effort that reflects the diversity of life.
The first thing you should know is that this record is MELLOW. Everything has soft, wispy keyboards that seem to link the tracks together. This album is a journey. It takes you through the different stitches of the electronic music fabric forming a patchwork of satisfaction. When you come to the end, you're grateful for the experience and sorry that it had to end. I found it similar to listening to I:CUBE's Picnic Attack mixed with Nightmare on Wax's Smoker's Delight. Ambient, spacey house that morphs into jazzy trip-hop that morphs into "body and soul" house. There's even a drum and bass number, albeit somewhat weak.
"Baghdad Cafe (Callin' U)" is the first track. It is a preview of what is to come near the end of the album, starting off with a nice mellow house groove. There are vocals on the track, and I'm known for despising vocals, but here they aren't intruding. This is a track that will get some play in the wiser house venues.
"Raw Emotions" follows and has this spacious ambient feel running through it then comes "My Planet Rocks", a Miami-Bass throwback with those soft, textured keyboard lines fluttering over it. Both tracks have a serious dub feel to them and should get some club play but probably won't.
"Synchronicity" will leave you in a deep trance after the panning sets in. A trippy track that's one of my favorites on the album, it reminds me of Autechre, in their softer moments. I can't get enough of this track and I always find a way to slip it on. You want more trancey sounds? "Pluto" is reminiscent of the trance sound of 1993.
"Soundtrack For Life", is like a DJ Krush loop with samples of an answering machine/voice mail thrown in here and there. It has a strong hip-hop beat but is still on the mellow side. This is followed by two very strong tracks, "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days" and "Taxi Blues". The former is a nice after party chill track on the trip-hop tip. "Taxi Blues" is literally like the theme to TV's Taxi updated '99 style.
The last three tracks morph into mellow house, forming a perfect loop, taking us back to where the album first started off. The first time I heard this album, I was blown away. A couple of more times, I started to ask myself if the sum was critical to the parts. Some of the tracks can definitely stand on their own, but others only seem to work in context with the others on the album.
Did A:XUS craft a soundtrack for life? Not really, but he has crafted one of the more listenable albums on the chill out side since Smoker's Delight, which is good enough. Perfect for decompressing after a long day of work or a long night of clubbing. Guidance Recordings has been putting out quality product and is definitely a label worth paying attention to.