Label: Warp Records
Summary: Consistently good, but never great, ambient techno.
B12's album Electro-Soma is very similar in style to two other albums released by Warp in the same year, namely Autechre's Incunabula and F.U.S.E.'s Dimension Intrusion. All three are albums I'd recommend to fans of ambient techno.
For anyone unfamiliar with the genre, this album consists of laid back instrumental music made with eighties synthesisers. The ubiquitous Roland TR-808 provides a substantial amount of the percussion. A few of the sounds on Electro-Soma can be heard on other artists' albums, such as The Prodigy's debut Experience, so it sounds like B12 have used at least one or two presets as well (not to mention what sounds like a sample from Brian Eno's Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks). Within this framework, however, they have managed to come up with something sufficiently different to warrant giving this album a listen.
Electro-Soma's sounds evoke cyberpunk imagery while the melodies are pleasant and laid back. The fact that it still manages to sound futuristic (in my opinion, at least) is pretty impressive considering it is now over ten years old, and was made with synthesisers that weren't even new when the album was released.
While certainly not the most groundbreaking of Warp's early releases, Electro-Soma manages to be consistently good. I never found any of its tracks to be great the way some of Incunabula's are, but I never found any to be bad enough to warrant pushing the track skip button either. Just because none of Electro-Soma's tracks amazed me certainly doesn't mean it should be overlooked: every cut on it is good, and finding an album so consistently enjoyable is pretty rare.
Electro-Soma serves as a good introduction to the genre, and as the perfect background music for doing anything geeky and chilled, such as programming late at night. Best of all, it's perfect for drifting off to while lying in bed with your eyes closed. Recommended.