Domino – 2002 – 49 minutes

Midnight Funk Association owe their name to Steve Albini's legendary noisecore trio Big Black, and their sound to the downbeat trip-hop meanderings that were so popular in the mid-Nineties. The band's early releases were carried by Mo'Wax, the label that epitomised this short-lived style and whose downward trajectory is a cautionary tale for any music biz wannabes.

Mind you, beat-driven atmospheric music is still popular. The success of Zero 7, Gotan Project and Thievery Corporation is enough to prove that Rizla-related records can shift units in 2002.

'Coffee Shop Rules' is unapologetically unreconstructed and refuses to stray into the organic, soulful style that eventually shoved trip-hop in the dustbin of history. Songs like 'Accident' are painfully predictable, and while opener 'Melody' does boasts an eponymous melodic keyboard line, it is undeveloped, uninspired, and completely lacking in direction. 'For The Hips' at least ups the pace a bit, but it's hard to imagine any dancefloors rocking.

MFA show little or no interest in adopting any new styles. Instead, their cack-handed productions end up chin-stroking their audience into a vegetative state. Dull, derivative and dated.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Melody - Last time - Special R - Way back - Accident - Look at me - Wooden thing - Interlude - For the hips - Half bar - Sexy way (01 mix)