Various-A Bugged Out! Mix By Hot Chip 2xCD (New State Music)(UK)
I'm sure more than a few of you have read my rant about this compilation's second disk (the "Bugged In" mix). I know some of you kids out there love these novelty mixes with their Hall & Oates and Fleetwood Mac but as an OG from another ear where I spent my life trying to escape that unappetizing, hackneyed pabulum-for me its resurgence is a bit much to handle. There is some good new music on the indie tip ala Hot Chip lurking on that second disk but it's elusive, unlike the first disk ("Bugged Out"). Here the boys showcase upfront techno tunes and even a few old ones for one of the better mixes I've heard in awhile. Sadly though, it's hard to justify spending all the bucks on an import like this for something so half and half, so even though the first disk is good to great I'd say save your money.
LTJ Bukem-Fabriclive 46 (Fabric London)(UK)
Although it was LTJ Bukem's seminal single "Music" that initially exposed me to drum & bass it has been a downhill slide for me in terms of my enthusiasm for the genre ever since then. Don't get me wrong, I have always enjoyed Bukem's label Good Looking as well as his particular take on the genre which is far more relaxed than what the d&b scene has morphed in to over the past 15 years. My main complaint about the genre (and this mix), is and remains, its lack of innovation-a hallmark of electronic dance music that has been completely discarded. While it is nice to hear the deeper side of jungle music, there is nothing new going on here that we ain't heard before and is nowhere near as earth shattering as the Commix Fabric mix from a few months back. On that mix it was obvious that the torch has been past to the new generation- and in the case of Commix- doing a fine job of it as well. Bukem showcases his sound and his label, making me wonder if he's the only left and what will happen to the deep sounds of drum & bass once he retires?
The Angel-Supa Crucial Downtempo Remixes & Rarities (Supa Crucial)(US)
The Angel was once a well-recognized producer who pulled together the best elements of hip-hop and chillout music to give the sound a very distinctive flavor. She was the reigning queen of downtempo earlier this decade, offering a counterpoint to the Ecstasy soaked excesses the rave scene was offering. Unfortunately, ever since then the entire genre has been on the decline and is practically non-existent these days which leaves me with mixed emotions about this recent remix package from her. On the one hand, she is a tremendous musician and producer and the reworks of the material are also excellent as she squeezes some life back into the long dead US drum & bass scene on "Ride With The Flow" under her 60 Channels guise. However, most of this material is extremely dated and sounds like it belongs somewhere back in 1999- right between Portishead and the Gotan Project. The retro feel of this compilation is unfortunately too much to get past and because of that it strips away any of the real power these cuts once held for DJs and dancers.
Kris Menace-Idiosyncrasies 3xCD (Compuphonic)(UK)
If you're like me, looking around at who to point a finger of blame at for this whole electro house fad, the best place to start would probably be with Kris Menace. Beginning in 2005, with his co-production of "Discopolis" Menace has been on top of the electro house world working with big names like Fred Falke, Alan Braxe, and Felix Da Housecat to name but a few. Disk one of this three disk set focuses on all of the singles and those collaborations. These were the dancefloor moments that got this guy so much attention to begin with. They are all here, with "Scaler" being the best and toughest of the bunch. Menace is a good producer, it's just that he's likely to let the cocaine and italo influences take over and make all the musical expressions on this album and he does it repeatedly on these singles. The second disk is the actual artist album here on Idiosyncrasies and goes a little farther in explaining this guy's MO. The album comes across like a tougher New Order with a penchant for passages inspired by ABC, which certainly undermines the better parts of the second disk but still manages to have some moments. The third disk is comprised of Menace's many well-noted remixes and is perhaps what this is guy is best suited for as reworks Metronomy's "Heartbreaker" hit harder than any of his original work. Basically, I can take or leave this album as I do appreciate his electro and house stylings,-I just wish he'd do something with them and take his game to that elusive next level because this album just ain't cuttin' it.
Butane-Endless Forms (Crosstown Rebels)(UK)
I so desperately wanted to like the new album from Butane as I enjoyed his debut album from last year. Sadly this album is just too Berlin'd out and too minimal to the point of being drearily progressive. There are plenty of cool sounds and ideas it just seems that he doesn't really know what to do with them this time so he just pounds out lots of loopy techno that never goes anywhere and is unable to connect on that deeper emotional level. I'd have to say this album has to be one of 2009's bigger disappointments.