Modesty, a lack of pomposity, humility. Skipping through a field of stiff upper lips with a twinkle in the eye, this is how the true Ninj likes to see him or herself. Ego squashed beneath rigor and correctitude. Masked, clothing fashionably but unobtrusively black. Understated.
Tenth anniversary? Pah, old hat, been done (to death) by everybody else already - eight hundred CDs belched from the depths of a marketing man's torrid night-time cum-hither fantasy. Now That's What I Call A Bunch Of Old Ravers/Jazzers/IndustryTarts Cashing In Number 4080
But hey, we're due a new Ninja Cuts anyway. Why not tie it in a little? Come up with a high-concept title - XEN - in gold leaf lettering, just for a larf like? Why not? Keep it short, sweet and see what happens?
The grand old heads meet and agree the principle - ad hoc stylee. The new Ninja Cuts is born.
But baby Xen is not like other compilations. While the Ninja do their ninjy thing (y'know, with those little stars and all of that), baby Xen starts sucking stuff in, feeding, feeding, a black hole in the corner of the office, forever sucking. Insatiable.
It's just a single CD of new material.
It's a double CD of new material and singles tracks.
It's a double CD of new material and singles tracks plus a third CD of 'missed, skipped and flipped' something like that tunes.
And suddenly, the Ninja look up from their desks and in the corner of the room is Xen-Elvis in the Laos/Vegas phase, a huge, sparkling, bloated monster of a compilation, surrounded by four hundred dancing girls (policitcally correct, o'course), four hundred dancing boys (anatomically correct, o'course), pyrotechnics, a Noah's ark of performing animals, great skipfuls of fattening food and a pantheon of two-headed gods, all smiling beatifically and setting their bellies wiggling in time with a multiplicity of beats. All giving off this weird glow - buddhist technicolor.
And the buildings are trembling, cracks appearing in the walls, spangly stars flying out of every orifice of the screaming office Ninj, swirling up and round Xenelvis as he begins to puke out great swathes of music. Stylistically
Released as a tribute to the fact that Coldcut
's legendary Ninja Tune imprint had been releasing records for a decade, this collection from the label's South London HQ showcases the rich array of talent they've amassed over the years. Though assembled in the same spirit as the seminal Ninja Cuts series, comprising of a mixture of back catalogue and material exclusive to the compilation, a crafty alteration of the title acts as a nod to the ten years since Bogus Order's "Zen Brakes" first fought its way onto a turntable. From the Steinski intro the tracklisting of the first of two compact discs has a distinct hip-hop leaning, slinking through lyrical activity from the likes of the Dynamic Syncopation before flipping a skit from Roots Manuva over Amon Tobin's "Saboteur" and dropping down to the sultry vocals of Sarah Jones, paralleling the Gil Scott Heron standard in its declaration that the "revolution will not be between these thighs." Flip to the second disc for a demonstration of Ninja's recent foray into cinematic funk, whether through the raging percussion of Chris Bowden or breathtaking orchestration of Clifford Gilberto's "Restless," the resultant experience is nothing if not widescreen. Settle down and reset your ears for two hours of cross dressing, genre bending bliss from one of the UK's most innovative record labels. --Kingsley Marshall