"The Best of Strange Cargos" covers some of William Orbit’s best independent work. Essentially a dynamic album of quirky mood music, with the producer exploiting the full range of his synthesizer presets and evoking a quintessentially '80s style of Fourth World digitalia, with some fascinating twists. "Via Caliente" and "Riding to Rio" are exceptional spaghetti twang pieces that evoke the old west. Cuts from Stange Cargo 2 show Orbit moving (slowly) away from the synth-horn solos and overall sound of new age/contemporary instrumental. Though there's a bit more electronics on this record, he still uses textural touches like Spanish guitar, to give a more human appeal to the digital beats. The last and best of the Strange Cargo albums, III matches elegant sequencer trance and understated organic instruments (piano, guitar) with ethnic-fusion and soft house rhythms. It's the only Strange Cargo featuring vocals, with Beth Orton making an early appearance (more earth mother than neo-folky) on the beautiful ambient-trance single "Water From a Vine Leaf." "The Story of Light" are excellent variations on the same form, while Orbit borrows from hip-hop and dub for "Time to Get Wize," with the toasting of Divine Bashim. There is enough variety here to keep you going from beginning to end, not always knowing where you will wind up and having a good trip getting there.
1. Water From A Vine Leaf 2. Dark Eyed Kid 3. Gringatcho Demento
4. Fire And Mercy 5. Via Caliente 6. Time To Get Wize
7. Ruby Heart (Transmogrified) 8. Atom Dream 9. Harry Flowers
10. Love My Way 11. Riding To Rio 12. The Story Of Light
13. Silent Signals 14. Painted Rock 15. Water From A Vine Leaf (Underworld Remix)
16. Water Babies