Claude VonStroke-Fabric 46 (Fabric London)(UK)
Initially when I received this I was very excited, especially considering how thumbs-down I am on the whole dirtybird/farting bass sound. The track selection here is good with a wide variety of sounds from techno to house and even a little jazz. Yeah, there's some farting bass in the mix but far less and infinitely more pleasant than anything off his frightfully awful Beware the Bird album. But the fact does remain that for a lot of jocks Fabric 46 would be fairly low-key no frills mix they'd probably giveaway for free. However considering that VonStroke carries a lot of dance music's mainstream popularity on his shoulders this is probably about as good as it's gonna get for him and there is nothing wrong with mediocrity at the top-generally at this level the results are always poor. However, things got a little trickier when homeboy decided he was going to rip some poor "internet journalist" a new one over the definition of his collaboration with Bootsy Collins-a track so bad that even the ain't-too-proud-too-beg journeyman Collins should be embarrassed he was involved. The twist that actually ties me to CVS's inapppropriately bad behavior is that his mush-mouthed word attack landed as a comment on a previous review that I did of his album-a relatively tight-lipped, look-at-the-floor backpatter that was begrudingly POSITIVE. For such a high profile artist to commit such a major snafu, in this veteran shitworkers eyes, is superlame and has pretty much relegated the Stroker-man to permanent non-newsworthy status as far as I am concerned. I never really gave a sh*t about the guy in the first place and figured these days he was better off eating Red Lobster with P. Diddy and the Basement Jokes anyway. The fact that he is out there hanging on the every word of so-called internet journalist community is just plain sad. Writing off the dirtybird axis is certainly no big loss for me and I am proud to cut any nitwit loose if they deserve it but I did give this the number one slot as a big ups for Fabric. At least they decided that adding another brick to the California musical pantheon might be slightly more exciting than the lone Mark Farina mix from last year. Damn shame the whole thing was packaged in a crate of sour grape.
Nate Mars-Concentric Circles (unsigned)
NYC's Nate Mars is an extremely gifted producer and the fact that his debut full length is a real treasure and has yet to be signed leaves me feeling a bit disheartened. On the one hand you have half-inspired illiterates running around selling bazillions of records (yeah, I'm talking about you Mr. VonStroke) while talented ubermensches like Mars have their brilliance sit in a can waiting for the day the light of day to notice them. As many readers may know, I've not been an ally of dubstep and in fact have been a harsh and outspoken critic of the sound most of the time. I have my reasons and most rational people at least understand my viewpoint, however, from time to time someone drops an album that makes me rethink my position on the subject. Concentric Circles is definitely one of those rarities with Mars' broad definition of the genre intermeshing with his more dub-than-step ethos. There are strong elements of reggae, dub, and even Bristolian trip hop with Mars leaning more than just a passing fancy toward Massive Attack into the mix. Yeah, there are some wobbling bass passages that seem endless but would probably provide maximum joy to a dubstep fan. However, it's not the fleeting bass wobbles culled from a collection of dance floor choons that gives this album its heft. Rather, it is Mars focus on creating a full length theme and this thing breathes like a living dubstep organism instead of just lying there like another shiny metal disk filled with endless amounts of anonymous five minute dance floor singles.
King Britt/Ashley Beedle-Southport Weekender Vol. 8 2xCD (SuSu Music)(UK)
This compilation distributed by Fabric is basically a bookend companion to the 21 year old Southport Weekender music festival-a real middle-of-the-roader for the family types. Ashley Beedle of X-Press 2 kicks off the collection on the first disk with a subdued mix of house, funk, and disco classics. Think Joey Negro without any of the flare and you'll have a good idea of what Beedle's mix is all about-no surprises. This one is for your parents for sure, but he does manage to get the fire started with his sizzling re-edit of Isaac Hayes' classic "I Can't Turn Around". Hot buttered soul never sounded so good but beyond that there is little Beedle presents that couldn't be found on a Defected compilation. King Britt, on the other hand, comes out guns a-blazin on the second disk starting with his slammin rework of Edwin Starr's Motown classic "War" not to mention his remix of Ursula Rucker's sultry and spiritual "Electric Santeria". What defines this mix though, is not the uptempo tribal house bangers but how Britt drops chunky vocal house music on the front half of the mix and proceeds to get deep and blippy on the back half. It really adds some weight to what would otherwise be your standard summertime commerative wallpaper piece and transforms it into a dark, steamy late night affair actually worth owning.
A-Trak-Fabriclive 45 (Fabric London)(UK)
It seems the best that the tired old genre of hip-hop can do these days to re-invent itself is to don Kool Moe Dee's sunscreens and steal from dance music's biggest rip-off artists Daft Punk in the hopes of finding some sort of coolness factor. And here I thought that if Mos Def spent less time "acting" (or whatever the hell they called that mumble mouth crapola I've seen him do in the movies) and more time making great records that the genre would be safe for decades to come. Unfortunately no one handed that memo to the young Canuck turntablist stud A-Trak. Tearing a page out of the Craze handbook he drops such a decidedly non-hip-hop mix for Fabric that had me me wondering not only about the health of the genre but A-Trak's own sanity as well. Fabriclive 45 is, simply put, a junkyard amalgam of DJ Dan, Erol Alkan, and Lil Wayne in one tidy (and nauseating) package. Fine if you are a fan of cheese in a can (and many of us are) but not so good if you are on a low cholestrol diet in the hopes of preventing boredom. About the only pleasant surprises on here are the tracks from A-Trak's own Fools Gold imprint otherwise I guarantee you've heard this all before- sometime last decade.
Larry Tee-Clubb Badd (Ultra)(US)
I've had a hard time forgiving Larry for foisting that no-talent piece of dogsh*t RuPaul on us but the electroclash thing pretty much soured my stomach forever to Larry Tee. To say that his taste in music is a bit lightweight and shallow is a supreme understatement after listening to his new album Clubb Badd. This album is the aural equivalent of Armand Van Helden and Eddie Van Halen working together and ending up with a severely autistic child instead of an album. Any sort of opportunity to actually make a fun party record worth listening to is buried in the slickest of production and dumb songs-really dumb songs. What the album ends up being is just more crapola from Tee, something of a trademark for this guy- which I am sure will do little to deter you from actually buying this album. But I say, "ick" anyway!