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Label:Arista – 74321 947862, BMG UK & Ireland – 74321 947862
CD, Album, Mixed
Country:UK & Europe
Style:Breaks, Progressive Trance, Ambient


2Mr Tiddles4:53
3Magnetic North5:17
4Cloud Cuckoo8:26
Edited By [Bassline]Andy Page
Co-producerJames Holden, Junkie XL, Sasha
Written-ByJ. Holden*
10Golden Arm
Written-ByS. Wright*
11Wavy Gravy7:29

Companies, etc.



Initial copies had sticker on cover stating "Includes exclusive access code to members area of" with mini postcard with code on.

Recorded at The Computer Hell Cabin, Amsterdam
Additional Recording at The Clock House UK, Wow & Flutter UK
Musicians recorded at Sarm West Studios
Mastered at The Town House UK
Junkie XL appears courtesy of Roadrunner Records

Cloud Cuckoo sample taken from "Requiem" by King Crimson 1982 written by Fripp, Bruford, Levin & Belew. Courtesy of Robert Fripp, under exclusive license to Virgin Records Ltd. Published by BMG Music Publishing. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

℗ & © 2002 BMG UK & Ireland Ltd. All label copy and sleeve notes © 2002 BMG UK & Ireland Ltd. Distributed by BMG. Made in the EU.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 74321 947862 7
  • Label Code: LC03484
  • Rights Society: Biem/Gema
  • Matrix / Runout ((Variant 1 & 3, mirrored)): DISCTRONICS 74321947862 01
  • Matrix / Runout ((Variant 2, mirrored)): DISCTRONICS 74321947862 03
  • Mould SID Code ((Variant 1, mirrored)): IFPI 8725
  • Mould SID Code ((Variant 2, mirrored)): IFPI 8717
  • Mould SID Code (Variant 3): IFPI 8707
  • Mastering SID Code ((Variant 1-3, mirrored)): IFPI L502

Other Versions (5 of 22)View All

Title (Format)LabelCat#CountryYear
Recently Edited
Airdrawndagger (3×12", 33 ⅓ RPM, 45 RPM, Album)BMG UK & Ireland, Arista74321 952921UK & Ireland2002
Airdrawndagger (CD, Album, Mixed)Kinetic Records, Kinetic Records67728, 547252US2002
Recently Edited
Airdrawndagger (3×12", 45 RPM, 33 ⅓ RPM)Kinetic Records67728-54725-1US2002
Recently Edited
Airdrawndagger (CD, Album, Mixed, Sample, CD, Compilation, All Media, Limited Edition, Promo)BMG, BMG, BMG, BMG, AristaBVCP-21291, BVCP 21291, 74321-97504-2, PTB-1007Japan2002
Recently Edited
Airdrawndagger (CD, Copy Protected, Mixed, Promo)Kinetic RecordsKNADV 54725-2US2002
fjfjfjfj's avatar
My #1 choice for "Music to zone out to while zooming at 30,000 feet ASL"
SYSTEM-J's avatar
[Note: this is a slightly edited version of a review I originally wrote in 2009, but which has been unavailable to read online for several years now]

There are few electronic music long players out there with more mixed reviews than Airdrawndagger. Historically, it will be remembered as a flop: it received a middling critical reception upon release, and although it reached #18 on the UK album chart in 2002, it underperformed considerably even compared to disappointing albums from other electronic stars such as Orbital, Faithless and the Chemical Brothers during that same period. And yet, ask around online or amongst clubbers and you’ll probably find a generally positive, even nostalgic opinion of the album.

The reason is simple. Alexander Coe had been promising an artist album since he first exploded in popularity in the early 1990s (for whatever reason, it was decided long ago by unanimous jury that The Qat Collection was not to count). Indeed, during his more debauched moments of superstardom, Sasha would claim he’d been locked in the studio working on his album to explain cancellations and no-shows. After several years of excuses, tantalising references in interviews and a steady stream of brilliant EPs, expectation began to grow exponentially for Sasha to deliver his mythical long player. By 2002, the critics and established fans had been waiting almost a decade, and as is so-often the case, the end product failed to match the enormous weight of expectation. “Rather late in the day, Sasha makes the best album of 1993” quipped Muzik Magazine in a 3/5 review that summarised the mild bemusement that greeted this strangely retro, semi-ambient record.

At the same time, a very different audience was happening across the record, an audience with no critical voice to contribute to the historical record and no expectations to weigh the album down. By 2002 trance was in the last throes of worldwide dancefloor dominance. An entire generation of clubbers who’d been inducted into the scene during the millennial epic trance zenith were making the transition from Gatecrasher to Global Underground and more serious, reputable dance music. Turned on to Sasha by the success of Xpander across the trance scene, they encountered Airdrawndagger en masse at exactly the right moment. Sasha toured the album worldwide that year and the youthful demographic he enthralled, particularly in the US, grew up to be the serious clubbers of the following generation. To many of them Airdrawndagger is a pivotal moment in their musical development, regarded with nothing short of reverence.

So where does Airdrawndagger really lie? Is it the underwhelming flop of the history books or the progressive classic of many people’s sentiments? The answer, obviously, is somewhere between those two poles.

What’s striking about Airdrawndagger is just how much like a Sasha set it sounds. Many jocks have tried their hand at artist albums in the past twenty years, but this is a DJ’s album in the purest sense. It’s constructed like a mix set from start to finish, each track seamlessly blending into the next with close control of rhythm and tempo. It builds from an ambient intro through breaks and into 4/4 beats to climax with the killer single, the tempo of each track sliding up from a sub-120 start to the same pulsing 130+ plateau so many Sasha sets reach. Needless to say, the structure and flow are immaculate, and this is an album that demands playing all the way through for the full effect.

While this is probably Airdrawndagger’s greatest strength, it’s almost certainly it’s biggest creative weakness. For not only did Sasha look to his DJ sets for inspiration, he looked very closely at the records he would use on such mixes, and then recreated them closely with the studio help of Charlie May, Junkie XL and James Holden. This is an endlessly referential album, packed with nods to countless classic Sasha anthems. The studio helpers weren’t drafted by accident: the influence of Spooky and Holden is writ large across the album, as are the sounds of Eat Static, Scott Hardkiss the FSOL, Orbital (Immortal is an astonishingly faithful style-bite of the Middle Of Nowhere sound) and many others.

Airdrawndagger is essentially Sasha remaking his favourite records of the previous ten years of electronic music and then slotting those remakes into a small-scale DJ mix. It’s an understandably “safe” way of making an artist album, particularly a long-awaited debut, but it doesn’t result in a particularly fresh or distinctive creative product. Sasha is so wrapped up in living up to his favourite music he never really creates anything of his own. Xpander, despite its use of the Little Bullet hook, was a cutting edge record, as were Arkham Asylum, Ohmna and, to a lesser extent, Be As One and Heart Of Imagination. While some of them might sound dated today, they encapsulated the very limit of progressive, well - *progress* - when they were released, which is why each one sounds so drastically different to its predecessor. By reversing the trend and making a record so carefully classic in approach, Sasha was aiming for timelessness but fell some way short. If instead he’d had continued to push the progressive paradigm into unexplored territory, he might have created a more resonant record than the risk-averse album he ended up with.

All of which is not to say it’s a complete failure. There are a handful of wonderful moments on Airdrawndagger. Fundamental is one of the best progressive breaks tracks ever made, Magnetic North is a fine piece of liquid ambient and the closer Wavy Gravy is an example of the intrepid dancefloor approach the album needed more of. Everything is perfectly produced with a distinctively crisp shininess and as you’d expect from Sasha it flows with captivating smoothness, the highlights augmented by the album’s bigger picture. It just isn’t the album it could have been. Sasha’s music had always had plenty of home listening value: the Xpander EP is probably a better headphone record than this one, and certainly a more timeless one.

For the clubbers of 2002 who’d never heard its like before it’s understandable that this album sounded unreal, and once that kind of impression has bedded into your musical youth there’s no dislodging it. Heard through less sentimental ears, Airdrawndagger is an album that deserves more credit than it original received, but it’s some way short of the classic some would have you believe.
s3iyaintrance's avatar
More than ten years listening this album, and just wanna say that I wanna hear it for the next 80 years too.
So beautiful, and complex, really is a masterpiece of electronic music of this era.
I hope that he come back with this kind of inspiration and left behind for a little time the deep & prog, house.
Highly Recommended.
djmgguedes's avatar
In my top 5 artist albums, easily. bloodlock is the highlight, indeed.
backindauk_'s avatar
This is one of my all time favourite CDs. It has everything and is one of the few CDs i can actually listen to from start to finish without getting tired/annoyed/bored. The production quality is second to none and oozes with lush synthesized soundscapes and delicious reverb.

Well worth a listen to if you're into electronic music.
williampdx's avatar
Obviously people are pretty opinionated about this album. Let me just say this... I have a collection of over 6000 albums and ep's collected over the past 15 years ranging from ambient, to house, to trance and progressive. Out of all those albums, this album is in my "top 25 albums of all time lists". Seriously.
Psyfish's avatar
Edited 15 years ago
Once again I am making an attempt to describe music - and the feeling it gives me - with words. This CD, just as most of Sasha's production, is close to what I call musical perfection. The track layout is perfect. The album starts up nice and slow, moves on to a harder and more uptempo part, to finish off nice and slow again. Also, all the tracks are made with greatest perfection and musical skill. My personal favourites are 'Mr. Tiddles', 'Cloud Cuckoo' and 'Bloodlock'.
Kybosh's avatar
Edited 16 years ago
Fair to say that this album genrates wildly varying opinions from it's listeners, which is a good thing as nothing is more boring than everybody singing it's praises, you need to challenge people...and this album does that. Personally, I love it. I don't quite know why; as others have said, it is free from the programming complexity of most progressive/breaks tunes and isn't a purely ambient experience. But what makes it special for me is the feel of the album in it's entirety. The tone of the album is established from Drempels onwards, that of electronic music with influences from trance, ambient, progressive house and breaks. I can't really pigeon-hole it any better than that.

Sasha shipped a hell of alot of criticism on release of this album, at the time I thought it unfair and on reflection I think it was the reaction of his hardcore fanbase, the trance connosueirs finding it too ambient and the progressive fans finding it too laidback. I don't see it as either. Credit to Sasha and his cohorts they attempted to make an album as opposed to a collection of singles or an album of generic proggy bangers. The beauty of this album lies in the journey it takes you through, exquisite production that doesn't suffocate the tracks with effects but allows the melodies and sparse beats room to breathe. I love it, I was unsure when I first bought it 5 years ago but I get something out of it every time I listen to it.
Sasha's recent effort "Involver" doesn't even warrant mention in the same breath as Airdrawndagger for it serves to cater to a narrow seam of the electronic music smorgasboard, generic proggressive house. This is Sahsa's best work and deserves some patience as the album will bring years of pleasure to those willing to revisit it with an older, more experienced and cultured taste in electronica IMHO.
bolle88's avatar
Edited 16 years ago
Nope...After at least 20 listenings I now have an opinion that counts. And in my opinion this is perhaps the most overrated electronica-album ever!
We have "cloud cuckoo", "boileroom" and "wavy gravy". Three great tracks, but absolutely not enough for making an album "great". I think people only rates this album high because it is Sasha, mr. Status. And it's not even Sasha who makes the music, on "bloodlock" it is james holden who makes a copy of his own style at that time and at the rest of the songs it is spooky, aka Charlie May.

No, Sasha should stay where he belongs: behind the dj-decks. Because there he is one of the biggest!
Skeleton-Man's avatar
Edited 16 years ago
Thinking back of the Samothraki Festival in Greece 2003 I think it is fair to say that the most crazy experience music - and otherwise - was when I danced for about an hour and a half with a tree at the chill out stage one night. This is why I am sometimes not quite sure whether a certain type of music should be labelled chill-out, ambient, progressive or psy-trance. I mean, you are supposed to chill at the chill-out stage, right? But play the right, quality, down-beat / chill-out at the right time, and you'll have everyone going crazy. This is what happened at the Samothraki Festival. Down beat music on chill stage with everyone going at it like crazy, things even more wicked than on main stage.

Sasha wasn't at Samothraki but Airdrawndagger represents exactly the sort of music I'm thinking off. I could hear this music in the afternoon at the chill-out stage, roll a splif, relax and enjoy. Maybe dance a little. Or I could hear some of the trax here at night and go dance berserk. My favourite dance track here has to be Fundamental. The kick-in at 8:05. What is this?! Progressive chill-out ...?!? But it's not fair to single one track out. Up-beat, down-beat, they're all fantastic!

And I almost never got to hear this album! Only heard it cause a friend insisted I'd give this Sasha album a chance. "I think you'll like it", he said. Well, thanks buddy! Right on - I love it!

What can I say? Get it get it get it ...