Everything But The Girl Still Going Techno On New Album

Ben Watt–Tracey Thorn duo came to electronic music late, but upcoming LP, Temperamental, gets into dance-club sound.

Although Everything but the Girl only recently began to flirt with

electronic music — coming to the genre later than such trip-hop

pioneers as fellow Brits Portishead and Massive Attack — their

ninth studio album, Temperamental, finds the duo firmly entrenched

in the dance-club sound.

On Temperamental, released Tuesday, singer Tracey Thorn and

keyboardist/guitarist Ben Watt combine deep drum & bass with heavy house

beats and jazzy, synthetic sounds.

The aptly named Watt said in an e-mail interview it was the experience

of working with techno-wise artists Howie B and Spring Heel Jack on EBTG's

previous album, Walking Wounded (1996), that led to the band's

current style. The sound also was influenced by the three years Watt has

just spent as a DJ, spinning house and drum & bass at London's Bar Rumba

and at the Notting Hill Arts Club.

"DJ techniques offer fresh ideas to any producer schooled on traditional

recording and arranging techniques," wrote Watt, 37, whose guitar and

keyboard playing provide a musical bed for Thorn's vocals. "Cross-fades,

backspins, filtering, motor stops, suspension of mood — all these

fed into Temperamental."

For instance, deep house beats drive the album's Watt-composed opener,

"Five Fathoms" (RealAudio

excerpt). But over the rhythms, Thorn adds the human touch,

recounting the nocturnal life of a London club-goer in an airy voice:

"I walk the city late at night/ Does everyone here do the same?/ I want

to be the things I see."

On the energetic title track, the line "I don't want you to love me,"

sung by Thorn, was sampled to echo and loop over and over.

Watt, who DJ'd rough versions of some songs from Temperamental

while they were still in production, wrote that he came up with the idea

of sampling Thorn's lyrics while DJing. Thorn, who is also 37, just

happened to hear it from the dance floor and was enthusiastic. "She loved

it. It was all part of an ongoing process to change the way people heard

her," wrote Watt.

The duo first recorded the drum & bass track "Blame" (RealAudio

excerpt) with Massive Attack for the 1997 film "Sarajevo." That

version was scrapped, but it was resurrected for Temperamental,

with frenetic beats and bass provided by J Majik of Metalheadz.

Other guests on the album include the Washington, D.C., house-music duo

Deep Dish, who remixed the EBTG hit "Wrong" in 1997, and produced

a new version of the 1997 Watt-and-Thorn instrumental "The Future of the

Future" (RealAudio

excerpt). Of working with Deep Dish, Watt wrote, "They are deep,

fat and dark — in a totally accessible way."

Slower songs, such as the bluesy, jazzy "Low Tide of the Night," and

"No Difference," with its soft horns, are more reminiscent of the sedate

pop that had characterized EBTG, who are best known for their 1996 pop

smash "Missing" (RealAudio

excerpt).

According to Watt, the band's arrangement and production of its music

may have shifted into the electronic realm over the years, but its core

sound has remained the same. "People say that, in spite of new dance

grooves, we still sound the same," Watt wrote. "I always respected Miles

Davis for his ability to move through styles and bands and grooves and

yet always sound like himself."

The band will be headlining shows in Europe in the fall and heading to

North America for a tour early next year.