Before I begin, I have to discuss one thing about Scooter that is constantly harped upon by fans and opponents alike. We all know that Scooter likes to gently pluck elements from other artists' songs and create their own songs using the bits and pieces that they have collected. They've been doing that for quite some time now, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that this practice has been repeated on this album (and just as blatantly too). But does it bother me? No, not really. We all know they do it -- but what they do is take music that I wouldn't normally listen to, and make it more accessible to me with their funky beats and groovy Scooter signature sound (which constantly changes, I suppose).
Anyway, this is the first album with the new third member, Michael Simon. They called it "The Ultimate Aural Orgasm" even before the album itself was complete. This collection of music had a lot to live up to. It couldn't be just a standard aural orgasm, nor could it accidentally deliver a premature orchestration. And people were becoming increasingly concerned when the hardly-stimulating first single from the album, "Behind The Cow", was first played for the public on December 1, 2006. Was it full of energy? Yes, but it was also not particularly catchy. Plus Mike, the new member of the group, had previously said that it was to be a 100% original song, but in fact such was not true at all. Elements from "Don't Fear The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult, as well as the music of The KLF, constructed most of the instrumental aspect. But what caught people off-guard the most was the inception of hip-hop into the mix, a genre that had mostly been left alone by Scooter. Unknown rapper Lincoln XL was used for the first couple of live performances, but on the single version, had been replaced by a more well-known name, Fatman Scoop. Fans were in awe and had difficulty accepting the new direction of Scooter. Was this truly the end for the band? Many were concerned that the end was indeed near.
And then "The Ultimate Aural Orgasm" was released. That shut them up (for the most part).
The album begins with a rather lengthy and ultimately superfluous introductory track: Horny in Jericho. You have a computer voice saying "The ultimate aural orgasm..." several times over a track that would not be out of place in a horror movie when some characters are wandering around in an abandoned haunted factory or something. It's not the worst thing you'll hear, that's for certain, but the point of having an almost three-minute track like this to open the album is currently unknown. So after three minutes, we are led into the aforementioned Behind The Cow track. With lyrics like "zippity-zippity-do-dah, zippity-do-dah-hey", it's clear that this track isn't going to be particularly serious. I've already discussed much of this track, and in the end, I can't say it's my favourite track on the album. In fact, it's one of the few tracks I actually skip over when listening to it. Perhaps I heard it too often in December and January... but even so, it just doesn't "do" it for me. Fatman Scoop's rapping is certainly interesting though. "Fatman Scoop rock the jam! Scooter's in the house! H.P.'s in the house! Now everybody jump! jump! jump! jump!" etc. No creativity here to be found; I thought Fatman Scoop had street cred. I guess a platinum blonde German dance music MC has more street cred.
Next up is Does The Fish Have Chips?, which is probably a secondary query to their infamous 1998 single "How Much Is The Fish?" We still don't know how much the fish is, and we definitely have no idea if the fish came with chips (or fries, as they call them over the pond). This track is a little bit different that one might expect out of a Scooter track -- it's based around an electric guitar chorus and that "whoo-hoo!" sample from "Song 2" by Blur. Yeah, you know the one. Whoo-hoo! And of course, in between the refrains, you get H.P.'s legendary MCing (which is relatively grammatically correct in this song!) and even the occasional bout of sexy female moaning. You can't go wrong with that. This is a very good song for the hardcore rockers, but it doesn't have the dance vibe of Scooter past! We need some dancefloor energy, guys! And that's what The United Vibe provides. With more crazy MCing of leading man H.P. Baxxter's shouts (and calling himself "Ice" for some reason, thinking he's the Vanilla Ice of the new millennium), this song is reminiscent of music that might come from either the Dickheadz (yeah, that's what they're called) or anything out of Aqualoop Records. Loud, obnoxious, and begging you to move your feet. There's also some nifty Arabian guitar stuff going on (could that be a gambus I hear?) that just adds to the danceability of this song. Great overall, and I love that hardcore bass that they used. Awesome stuff.
Suddenly, Scooter decides to take the scenic route into electro-country with Lass uns Tanzen, a track that bears little resemblance to anything Scooter has ever tried before. Over a truly electro-house beat and synth combo, H.P. bellows but one phrase: "Lass uns tanzen oder ficker oder beides, denn morgen sind wir tot." This loosely translates to "Let us dance or f*** or both, for tomorrow we'll be dead." These are words to live by for sure. And just after H.P. shouts his last "...denn morgen sind wir TOT!!", the energy rises for an awesome monolith of sound including some sound effects that make it seem as though you're dancing in the seedy part of town... but you just can't stop because the music rocks your socks! This will be their next single, to be released on March 23, 2007. Watch for it! Then Scooter takes another trip into unique territory with U.F.O. Phenomena, which is an interesting take on electro-trance, if that's a genre at all. With sort of a fuzzy electrobass going through the main melodic section, and a plunky synth creating that melody, you have a very interesting intergalactic feel throughout the song. Added to that are strange synthetic vocals speaking lyrics that are very unclear (but you can check the booklet to find out what it's talking about). It's actually a calming track that serves as the gateway to another world, and to the rest of the album.
Now it's time to go to the circus, as the strange sample leads us to believe at the beginning of Ratty's Revenge, but it's actually nothing but circus tunage! Instead, it's a strange mix of a trance version of "She Moved Through The Fair", a traditional Irish folk song (as sung by Nikk, the wife of Scooter member Rick J. Jordan), and the classic dance music of yore that made people get up and boogie back in the late 90s. The main melody of the song isn't exactly impressive to anyone, but it serves its purpose. ...Huh? What's that? You're wondering who Ratty is! Why, it's the music side-project of Scooter, although new Ratty releases or remixes haven't been coming for a few years now. Ratty's also just a group of rats who like to have a good time, I suppose.
Over time, Scooter has developed quite a positive rapport with the Bloodhound Gang, those guys who gave us that annoying song "The Bad Touch" with the video where they dressed up as monkeys and captured midgets and chefs and stuff. In more recent times, Scooter was kind enough to remix "Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss Uhn Tiss" by the Bloodhound Gang, with awesome results. So here we are, a little later on, and Jimmy Pop, vocalist of the Bloodhound Gang, has stepped in to co-produce the next trach, The Shit that killed Elvis. The Bloodhound Gang influence can actually be heard rather easily with the faux guitar background instrumental part while H.P. does his MC thing. But you'll remember three things from this song: 1) the introductory sample, courtesy of Jackass star Bam Margera, who says in a pseudo-phone message: "Hey, this is Bam. Call me and tell me if you're f***ing alive..." 2) Jimmy Pop and H.P. going back and forth, saying "Hook me up with the shit that killed Elvis..." 3) The melody where H.P. goes "Doo-doo-do-do-DOO..." over top of it. It all adds up to a fun little gem of a track that you might not expect on a Scooter album. But here it is, in all its glory.
Imaginary Battle really has nothing to do with a battle at all! It has to do with more loud electric guitar action, and also a bad byte of grammar: "If you want to see the greatest MC, all you have to do is watching me!" Sheesh, learn some verb tenses. Anyway, between MC shouting sessions, we get that guitar going while a high-pitched voice (normally a staple for more recent Scooter releases, but surprisingly scarce on this album) saying "So I need a bassline!" Some people don't like that voice... but I do. It's cool. I can dig it, I can. If you listen carefully, there's a piano line in with the electric guitar chorus as well, but it's much more audible on its own later. There are also some Indian influences in here with some of the background instruments during the bridge which adds a bit of extra flair to the song. Overall, pretty funky and loud enough for all. After the battle that never was, we have Scarborough Fair, which takes from an English classic tune this time (of the same name, no less). That part of the song is sung by Nikk as well. It has a more trance feel to it as well; the bass is somewhat hard but hollow, yet the main melody synth is a bit flighty, somewhat like what you'd find in a 4 Strings track. Sadly, the great song that this may have been takes a bit of an ugly turn as it suddenly jumps into that Benassi bass that I can only seem to love in productions by Benny Benassi himself. (Oh, and it's also not a great part of the song because H.P. says "I is going to drop the bomb." Learn your verbs, mister!) It's a decent song though; nothing that makes me mad and wanting to bust urns with my forehead.
An orchestrated introduction of a little over thirty seconds or so is the entryway to East Sands Anthem, but then out of nowhere, the voice of the robotic H.P. Baxxter comes in and hypes up the crowd with crazy lyrics that require the booklet to comprehend! Finally, the third element of this song (is it a mashup?) is some sort of crazy Scottish anthem that wouldn't sound too out of place coming from bagpipes. But all we get are 'synthpipes' here, so accept what you get. The vocals here are my favourite part, however. The rest is nice, but detracts from those vocals! The album closes with Love Is An Ocean, a purely instrumental track, which we needed after five straight tracks with H.P.'s manic croonings. While the song SOUNDS really good and thorough, as a great trance instrumental should, there's something missing from this track that I can't quite pinpoint. I like listening to it, but it seems as though the song builds up to a climax that just never comes. The main melody isn't even really a main melody, as it doesn't go anywhere. Even a change in bassline would have helped this track, but sadly it falls flat and just ends up sounding repetitive at its peak. Scooter has been known for great instrumentals at the end of each album. This is not a terrible track by any means, but it certainly breaks the trend. And for users of German iTunes, you could have pre-ordered this album and received a free track, called "Firth Of Clyde". Sadly, it wasn't available to me, so I don't have it. I'm a bit peeved that I couldn't get it.
The Limited Deluxe Edition came with, among other things including a two-sided poster for everyone to enjoy, a bonus disc featuring extra multimedia material and six additional tracks! That's cool! The first track is a live version of Aii Shot The DJ, which was cut from their live DVD, "Excess All Areas". It sounds pretty much like the single version of the song, except that, well, it's live, and H.P. sounds more stressed vocally. Such is the way with live performances... and smoking. We also get the live version of Am Fenster, a song that was previously only available on the limited edition of their 2001 album "We Bring The Noise". It's only in German, but it's still pretty good. 'Twas based off the song by City of the same name. So that's nice to have. This track was also cut from the "Excess All Areas" DVD.
The third track may just end up being the most impressive: a thirteen-minute live version of Trance-Atlantic, originally from their 2004 album "Mind The Gap"! The original track was not this long, but they stretched it out with much more variety than the original. It begins as an ambient song, eventually being accompanied by Amazonian percussion of sorts and a piano that was absent from the original. Around the 3:08 mark, the song changes into something different, eventually morphing into a harder acid-style track, which is cool because the sound of acid trance never gets stale! It's like one of the members of the band was spontaneously replaced by Kai Tracid for a bit there! At approximately the 6:23 point, we get back into the regular, original version. But this time, there will be some nice soothing piano to accompany everything. The main melody slips in, late as usual, around 10:49, and then we arrive at the main climax that is so beloved by Scooter fans. Yes, all in all, this is the track you'd be getting the bonus disc for.
Next is the live version of Fine (also cut from the DVD), and while it is mostly taken riff-for-riff from the 1997 original, it seems that the guitarist on tour, Jeff 'Mantas' Dunn, has opted to do a little guitar accapella and just rock out for a couple of minutes on his own before the song ends officially. If you like random electric guitar mania, this will be the track for you.
The next two tracks (which round off the disc) are remixes. First is the Flip & Fill UK mix of Apache, Scooter's previous single before "Behind The Cow" came around. This remix is...well, pretty damn icky to listen to. That's the best way to describe it. H.P.'s voice sounds horrible here, as though he's talking through a cheap $5 microphone from Wal-Mart; I may just have to assume they didn't get the official vocal samples from Scooter themselves. Flip & Fill have also decided to combine the original sample from "Apache Rocks The Bottom" of the guitar with their standard cheesy dance-pop synths, but in the end, it all just feels cluttered. This remix should not be here. It's pure cacophony that makes the original sound like the greatest song ever produced (even though it wasn't). Finally, there's the 3AM Mix of "Behind The Cow", which I hear was produced by Mike. Most of the original song is lost, except or some vocals and a little bit of the melodic attributes of the verses. But other than that, it's actually a direct ripoff of "Turn On The Music" by Roger Sanchez, right up to the synths used. Granted, it's funky, but I say that only because the Roger Sanchez tune is pretty good too.
So was this album really the ultimate aural orgasm? The answer is... not really. It was a pretty decent aural orgasm, but not the ultimate one. However, what it DID showcase is that the other members of Scooter made a decent choice when selecting their new member. Michael Simon has proven that he can add the right spices to keep the band going for a while longer. Overall, this album rocks though, so I highly recommend that you give it a listen, just to see what I've been hyping you up for. It's not the ultimate aural orgasm, but I'm sure you'll feel something stir in your ear...