Catz N Dogz-Stars Of Zoo (Mothership)(US)
The name may be new but chances are that many are already familiar with the Polish production duo under their other alias 3 Channel and their remix of Claude Von Stroke's "Who's Afraid Of Detroit?". Here the two carve a line more approved by Justin Martin than his partner CVS on the Dirtybird sub-label Mothership with lush strings and boompty house underpinnings that play down their overt techno flourishes. Tracks like "SF" and "My Zoo Is Your Zoo" are exactly the kinds of tracks owning dance floors in San Francisco and are indicative of Catz N Dogz recent tour through the Bay Area. There are some excellent tracks on Stars Of Zoo that outshine any of the duo's more techno oriented releases as 3 Channel and a refreshing change from all the minimal euro sh*t out there too. Yet with all of that the album shows little variety beyond the of-the-moment tribal house stomp and comes across more like a DJ collection than a true listening experience.
Bombay Dub Orchestra-3 Cities (Six Degrees)(US)
This album is probably one of the best things that SF-based downtempo label Six Degrees has put out in a long time. The UK duo Bombay Dub Orchestra recorded this album in three cities hence the title. Much of the live instrumentation was recorded in Mumbai and Chennai India while most of the UK sessions were held at Rockfield Studios where Queen recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody". The results are a stunning focus on dynamic string passages that evoke the mysterious sounds of the sub-continent along with a mix of complex Indian poly rhythms and modern western dance beats that add to the album rather than distract listener from the studio witchcraft involved. Cinematic is perhaps the best way to describe 3 Cities with memorable songs that far outshine the typical trappings of the average world music album. Leave it to BDO to finally make the genre hip with an album that can only be described as modern even though it is firmly rooted in classical Indian music.
Mark Farina-Mushroom Jazz Vol. 6 (OM)(US)
Veteran San Francisco DJ Mark Farina has things set on autopilot with this series at this point with hardly any variation since the first one almost a decade ago. However even with that glaring strike against the latest installment of Mushroom Jazz it's hard to find fault with a skills DJ as good as Farina as he digs deep for modern hip-hop instros and downtempo movers that grab ya. The effects are head-swaying without sacrificing any of the funk to help you get your boogie down on with. OM Hip Hop label mates Colossus and J. Boogie's Dubtronic Science turn in the mixes' most solid material but leave it to Farina to throw a jewel in there from the Windy City's Rubberoom just to let you know how dusty his fingers get in the crates.
Lee Coombs-Lot49 (Lot49)(UK)
Former UK breaks producer Lee Coombs I believe relocated to San Francisco some time ago to be closer to the kind of Burning Man breakbeat sound he favors out here in Cali. If that is indeed the case than the West Coast has left its mark on Coombs who once plied the kind of proggy breaks that make me wince in embarrassment when thinking of them. On Lot49 he seriously techs up his breaks with contributes from DJ Icey, 30HZ, and Elite Force but shows his allegiance to the changing guard of techno in the west by throwing in some Oliver Huntemann and Guy Gerber for good measure. It comes across great but do I really need another Almost Anonymous at this point and to be honest this isn't any better than the two mixes those guys gave away for free.
Freq Nasty-Fabriclive 42 (Fabric)(UK)
Freq Nasty is sort of the UK version of top bass cadet Diplo. And while Nasty doesn't go as retro as Diplo went for his Fabriclive mix he certainly covers a wide range of bass music much like Diplo. Things are kept interesting on this volume of the Fabriclive series with a wide splattering of breaks, 'ardcore, dubstep, Bmore, and booty bass all stacked on top of one another fighting for prominence. This definitely prevents the mix from getting too obnoxious-a common problem when presenting bass music-but the musical chair programming splits up too much of the dance floor action decimating any good grooves. There certainly are moments on Fabriclive 42, especially my pal Nate Mars' exquisitely crafted piece of vocal dubstep that closes out this disk, but overall it's too overbearing and scattershot in programming to capture my undivided attention.