Commix-Fabriclive 44 (Fabric London)(UK)
This surprisingly fresh drum & bass mix comes from the Cambridge based duo Commix. These guys made a stir back in 2007 by dropping the first every artist album on the Metalheadz imprint. Here they manage to breath a huge gust of fresh air into the sails of a fading genre by following the game plan from their album Call To Mind and once again using Detroit and minimal techno as the foundation for their breakbeat and ragga heavy assault. Not being a fan of drum & bass what I found to be refreshing on Fabriclive 44 was the huge variety of skittering breakbeat tracks these guys employed in the mix while building a huge palette of techy sounds that fall somewhere between Photek's Nineties greatness and those found on popular German tech house labels like Get Physical and Poker Flat. These guys cite techno jocks like Steve Bug as a DJ influence and have had their tracks remixed by techno cats like Mathew Jonson and Underground Resistance proving they walk the walk. The cross-genre pollination is definitely doing these guys a world of good by re-awaking the limitless possibilities of drum & bass at a time when the scene has all but shut the lights out in preparation for a final exit.
Josh Wink-When A Banana Was Just A Banana (Ovum)(US)
Superstar DJ Josh Wink returns with his first album collection since 2002 and even after seven years and nearly 15 years removed from "Higher State Of Conciousness" the guy has yet to learn any new tricks. Subtleness as a producer has never been Wink's strong suit, a shame since he is such an amazing DJ capable of so many moods. Here on Banana he combines his signature noisy buzz saw caterwauling with the bleeps of the new school tech house scene. Things get tricky because he also still feels the need to continue define his basic groove within the cheesy NYC house sounds circa 1998- Armand Van Helden for starters. The Frankstein like shambolic mess does get the job done but then again so does listening to a stack of tracks I just picked up on Beatport. What defines someone as a pioneer and ongoing tastemaker is the ability to progress and move on. I'm not feeling that here on When A Banana Was Just A Banana.
Madison Park-Another Yesterday(basicLUX)(US)
Madison Park is curious duo comprised of James and DeAnna Cool. They come across looking like a combo of Saint Etienne and Everything But The Girl and at times even manage to sound like those artists. Unfortunately this duo also has a penchant for fluffy adult contemporary radio faire on par with Dido or Robyn giving Another Yesterday a decidedly ABBA-esque quality to it- which isn't necessarily a kiss of death just a guilty pleasure. The production here is very smooth luckily most of the hooks aren't so sugar coasted that Madison Park is transformed into the Archies' kissing cousins. However the Autotune applied to DeAnna's voice on the already dubious cover choice of Roxy Music's "More That This" helps this the whole album easily disappear up the post-modern disco ass and that's it, "don't show me no more please".
Cryptacize-Mythomania (Asthmatic Kitty)(US)
As you probably know by now, my forays into indie rock are few and far-between. But as is the case with any kind of music there are always notable exceptions and the latest album from Cryptacize happens to be one of those. While there is a certain amount of that smarmy indie rock preciousness along with lillywhite attitude and well-dressed press photos that I find a huge turn-off these guys do manage to find a little something special on Mythomania called a good hook. Vocalist Nedelle Torrisi has a great voice that to me conjures comparisions to the rather ubiquitous Sarah Cracknell (Saint Etienne) and Sarah Shannon of Velocity Girl. In between the standard yawn -inducing math rock workouts unfolds an album where the young trio tries to carve a middle ground between Stereolab's arty graspings and the Yardbirds' pelvic thrustings. It's not much but was enough to capture my attention a whole bunch. I do find myself intrigued however that a run-of-the-mill white guy (and girl) band has any aspirations to be anything other than lame on their way to a Pitchfork feature piece. Apparently I was wrong and being pleasantly surprised is always a good thing.
Various-Delicious Vinyl All-Stars: Rmxxolgy Deluxe Edition 2xCD (Delicious Vinyl)(US)
Delicious Vinyl, the LA-based hip hop label best known for three things: "Wild Thing", "Bust A Move", and the Pharcyde jumps back on the radar screen after a long absence with a collection of the label's key tracks being remixed by a varied cast of characters. Sadly, the rep with this label has always been that once you get beyond the wonderful Brand New Heavies albums that Rick & Michael Ross licensed from Pete Tong's London label, the one and a half great Pharcyde albums, and the epic single "What's Up Fatlip?" what else are you left with? Even including Tone Loc, Young MC, and Masta Ace- a whole hell of a lot of nothing. This label helped to pioneered the cheap, disposable aspect of the 12" inch single especially in relation to rap music so it's no shock that on this retrospective the label chose new school throwaway producers like Peaches, Don Rimini, Hot Chip, and Aaron LaCrate to represent. Their remixes are so thin and ghetto that it's just painful listening to the small chunks of the label's greatness reduced to dust like on Hot Chip's embarassing remix of "Passin Me By". Had these twits even heard a Pharcyde record prior to attempting this effort? Beyond Eminem's true-to-the-game rework of "Slaugtahouse" and Diplo freakin the funk on the rather obvious "Bust A Move" everyone else sounds like their exposure to the label's roster was little to nil and consequently the first disk is a nauseating endeavor. The second disk contains all of the instros for the hip hop DJs as well as the label's biggest singles raw and unedited-again for the DJs. That is certainly not enough to save this lost cause. Avoid at all costs.