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Prologue
Prologue
Offered by Love-Your-Books
Price: £10.19

3.0 out of 5 stars Groovin, in a lab coat engineered kind of way, 11 Dec 2002
This review is from: Prologue (Audio CD)
With everything gone progressive house these days, the timing appeared right for Cass (Cutbush) to showcase the output of Fire records, a label formed in May 2000 with Pete “Slide” Martin and Lee Burridge. And yup, that means 23 more tracks exploring the myriad different shades of dark and weird in dance.
Two and a half hours of queasy breaks (Andy Page/Lee Burridge “Maladjusted”), jerky bass rhythms (Cass “The Trader”) and haunting acid house (Marscruiser “Insanity Rains”) doesn’t quite scream “party platter”, but those looking for brow-furrowed seriousness have something that meets the muster.
A sizeable chunk of Prologue doesn’t rise above prog drum and wispy synth pad workouts, or different-not-better remixes. The Stealth ominous piano cover of “Opera”, for example, lasts about forever and two minutes too long. What does break through inevitably shines brighter; Slide’s spunky “Future Disco” lightens the mood and (wa-hey!) runs a stonkin’ pseudo-guitar riff throughout. Brethren’s “Reservation” grinds a dirty synth for the standout on disc two.
It’s all groovin’, albeit in a lab coat engineered in a black studio kind of way. Close the curtains and enjoy if that sounds like you. Though you won’t see the darn spiffy packaging, I might add.


1999
1999
Price: £10.06

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fresh French disco longplayer, 11 Dec 2002
This review is from: 1999 (Audio CD)
It's always a challenge making a house music long-player, even tougher when consisting mainly of funky French disco. So are the two men of Cassius (one of which is half the Daft Punk duo, and somehow one-third Stardust if my Parisian math is correct) up to the task?
Mostly yes. Over 16 tracks (!) the hits come early, such as "Feeling For You," and follow a devised formula: choice vocal sample, mid-tempo disco groove, and enough quirky funk to keep things flowing. In fact, not even these elements are needed in songs like "Foxxy" and "La Mouche" which survive off the strength of a swirling beat.
As skillfully produced as the numbers are, this sound is hard to sustain, and indistinguishable filler tracks like "Crazy Legs" and "Planetz," do creep in. Hang around for the "Cassius 99 Remix" at the end, and shuffle the album in with a few others when listening to fully appreciate.


Live At The Social Volume 1
Live At The Social Volume 1

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chems best mix CD, 11 Dec 2002
If you're a Chemical Brother fan, or a fan of early hip hop with an electronic edge, you'll definitely want this. This was released before their classic Exit Planet Dust album, and as a mix album only contains one of their songs. But as a DJ disc, it's about as good a disc for this style of music as you'll find- clever, original, well mixed, and picking songs that aren't overplayed.
Everything gets thrown into the pot: there's Meat Beat Manifesto's cut-up quality on "Cutman," great hip hop by artists such as Eric B & Rakim, and the chemical-beats sound they would later develop in titles like Red Snapper's "Wesley Don't Surf" and The Charlatans "Nine Acre Dust." True to their roots, there's a dose from their acid house influences.
This is what their "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" CD should have been.


Response
Response
Price: £13.17

4.0 out of 5 stars One of 2002's essential pick-ups, 10 Dec 2002
This review is from: Response (Audio CD)
Apparently Ashley Casselle, half of production team Ashtrax and mixer of the excellent set Deviations in 2001, re-edited and thoroughly jiggered around with the two dozen tunes used for this Automatic Records double album. What's more pleasing to see, and a rarity of sorts, is a label compilation that isn't reaching to fill space. There's no extra dub versions, alternate remixes, or acapellas in here to rack the song tally higher.
The results? Quite tasty for those wanting well-crafted rhythm tracks and melodic (if darker) progressive house cuts. Hour one keeps it mid-tempo, accentuating beat changes and dynamic flourishes to stay well above the identi-kit progressive plod line. The variety of tones and depth within these mostly unreleased instrumentals are effortlessly engaging, impressive considering that all the listed artists are about five people under aliases. Nods go to Filter Tip's "In Season," and Allen & Healey's "Buzzing."
Disc two proves just as stellar, though more reliant on older work. Electric Tease/16B and Quirk/Brancaccio & Aisher drop Digweed-favored funky tunes, while Cass and Slide offer a slew of tested trance hits. Ashtrax's ambient rework of "First" ends the set on a refreshing note.
Technically Response came out last December, traditionally a musical slow point for the industry, hence not a lot of fervor has come of this. So let's just move forward, and call this the first essential pick up for 2002. 4.5 stars


Deviations
Deviations
Offered by Renegade Sports Group Limited
Price: £4.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deviates from the dance mix norm, 10 Dec 2002
This review is from: Deviations (Audio CD)
Casselle's a Gatecrasher resident DJ, but don't let that shiny madhouse of a night out fool you; he was also a spinner at the moodier Bedrock and is half the Ashtrax production duo, makers of the stunningly sublime 'Helsinki' tune, probably a top 10 trance record of the year.
As for Deviations, there certainly is a need for change from the en masse outpouring of (admittedly) quality yet similar trance and house sounds these days. While buyers have never had it better, producing an effort that breaks from the norm is an increasing challenge. The payoff can be immense; Timo Mass's genre-defying production techniques earned heaps of favor in 2000.
Which leads us to this mix. Disc one gears relaxed, atmospheric numbers that run counter to insistent, crisp beats woven together. The results (exempting Coco and Stonebridge 'The Beach') don't stand out, but keep your body at attention until the funkier stuff kicks in. That'd certainly be Lemon 8's tasty Triple Funk' and Animated's 'Container no. 2' , given a needle scratch remix from Ian Wilkie, who serves double duty by twisting Dario G's 'Dream to me' to top effect.
Disc two spins the dial to delightfully drugged out and trippy, courtesy of Silverlining's 'A Present Eventuality and a host of others. You were expecting something else from producers 42 Cows in Town? Add in worthy selections from Max 404 and The Spoon Wizard (hang with me on the names, folks), and a five-star chugger by Seconds Out, and you've got quite a smooth and tidy package.
Does it deviate from the overwhelming load of DJ sets out there? My money's on Ashley Casselle, and his refreshing take on the dance beat, ranking in the top charts at year's end.


The Big Chill Loves You
The Big Chill Loves You
Offered by J4G
Price: £21.95

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chill Comp of the year contender, 10 Dec 2002
This review is from: The Big Chill Loves You (Audio CD)
Further proof that the British dance industry is more developed and diverse than the States, The Big Chill is literally a "lie on the grass for about a weekend while big name folks spin summer tunes" kind of event. Lucky sods.
At least we get the highlight LP, 30 unmixed tracks with artists from the deep, deep underground where Ministry of Sound agents fear to tread. So you get supreme soul from Mo'zez & Mars, channeling Al Green on "Baby Blue," and the stunning Ashley Slater "Private Sunshine," worth the price of this album alone. There's Balearic pop with Kirsty Hawkshaw, sugary voice wrapping her renowned Halcyon + On +On chorus to a Dr. Rocket "Café de Flore" beat. Add a sweeping surf guitar ballad, The Egg "Venice Beach," marumba on Achers & G "Pling," a la-la lullaby from Laura B and cosmic-symphonic-sitaric-fantastic "Paths" reworked by hippies FSOL, then sprinkle a healthy selection of vibrant instrumentals on the way, for a plum fantastic two plus hour lazabout.
Credit to Pete Lawrence for finding so many unknown gems with rarely a misstep (the scratch-happy "Fairy of the Lake") But enough of that, The Big Chill Loves You - oh yes it does - so nab it and head to a grassy hill while the weather's still warm.


Terry's Cafe 3
Terry's Cafe 3
Offered by makandmabel
Price: £59.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Warm, ambient techno gem, 10 Dec 2002
This review is from: Terry's Cafe 3 (Audio CD)
Producer, DJ, and Germany's Norman Feller in disguise, Terry Lee Brown steers his third volume of the Café series away from techier waters, opting to mine the rarely explored region of minimal house, diva-less and without the deep-leaning pleasantries that veer towards wallpaper lounge. Here the focus is on warm ambience, of soft hues to color subtle tracks, yet with sounds perpetually floating through to keep the mix engaging.
Darn near flawless from the get-go, Brown digs deep in the record crates for his picks; only a star Theorem/Swayzak collaboration, the expectedly mellow mover "Day From Hell," blips onto the known radar. Hushed, restrained at times with tunes like "Fig" settling softly in the air, swelling with muted kick ("Locked to Fantasy" "Monk Sea") when hazy complacency threatens to slink in. Add some Brazillian bite in the middle courtesy Debaser Boy and energy upswing near the end with the double-wide bassline "Tropika" and you complete a top-notch ride.
Which shows you how much startlingly wonderful music is out there for artists willing to explore beyond the critic-approved or club-friendly guideposts. Stretch on the sofa and enjoy.


Komfort Labor Presents Scape
Komfort Labor Presents Scape
Price: £19.09

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars reconstructing digital techno for headphone voyagers, 6 Dec 2002
There's been some press talk of Stefan Betke (aka Pole, founder of label Scape) spending six months to mix this collection of big names in laptop composers and gear twiddlers. Vladislav Delay, Kit Clayton, Process, Farben (Jan Jelinek), Dr. Rockit (Herbert), Pole...just a beginning list of artists who've released top albums in their own right this past year, now with work blended seamlessly into an hour long set.
The fourteen tracks here are always evolving and reshaping, but with a keen sense of purpose (even when spinning out of control) that separates this crop of producers from software hack wannabes. The hand of Betke is ever present to guide the ebb and flow, deftly using track placement and the sullen violin of Nils Oekland's 'Skynd Deg' repeatedly through the mix to reconstitute these fourteen tunes as pieces of one long arrangement.
Which doesn't make this an easy listen. Nestled beside the cozy fuzz-troncs of Process 'Smp-k Option 2' and the actually danceable Maus and Stolle 'Taxi' are the shrill tones of Kit Clayton 'The Mimic and the Model #1-8' and the chaotic free-for-all Flanger 'Quicksilver Loom.' But that's also what makes it compelling, as in the shift from Dr. Rockit's camera click dirge 'Photos and Pebbles' to Cinematic Orchestra's actual instruments in haphazard jamboree 'Continuum.'
Proof of the whole being greater than the parts, Komfort.Labor reforms some occasionally mediocre material into an hourlong headphone journey. Being a bit difficult, listeners just beginning their techno explorations may want to try Scape label comp 'Staeditizism' or the works of Jan Jelinek, Process, Vladislav Delay, and Pole first, or get Herbert's Globus Mix 5 if Komfort.Labor ultimately tickles your fancy.


Global Underground: Lee Burridge - Nu Breed 5
Global Underground: Lee Burridge - Nu Breed 5
Price: £14.71

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Least accessible Nu Breed of the bunch, 6 Dec 2002
Next to Darren Emerson, Lee Burridge probably stands as the person least likely to pop up on a Global Underground. Once a premiere DJ in Hong Kong, only recently has he forged a name for himself in dance-centric Britain. A spotty release history follows as well; Metropolis from 1999 was mildly successful in mixing progressive bits with breakbeat, while Tyrant, a two-disc collaboration of tech-house and future breaks with fellow ace Craig Richards, charted as a top 10 compilation from 2000.
That same spirit, stitching together beat-centric tracks from all fields, appears here. The crisp drums and subtle pads of Orlando Carera vs The Cosmonut's "Ceramic" show off the smoother, less funky side of house. DJ Ryno's "Turkish Delight" proves what delightfully intricate programming and a shaking b-line can achieve. Meanwhile, crammed in the middle contributions from BLIM, Chris Carter, and Altitude veer into heavier, acid-fried tribal sounds, conceding that only a few will appreciate it. Disc two restores some consistency, spooling out mostly darker, scarier material. Credit Burridge for dropping Aaron Carl's "Crucified", a rare male-vocal cut in these mostly fem-centric electronica times.
The lowlights? A duff decision to lead with "Mushrooms," one of those novelty tunes about, yup, a mushroom experience, which barely seemed fresh ten compilations and remixes ago. And anyone who thinks chopped up, repetitive gibberish is worth vinyl time (Leuroj "Stickman", Wally Lopez "Patricia Never Leaves the House") should send me an explanation.
Bottom line, Burridge spins probably the most discordant and least accessible Nu Breed so far, certain to connect only with eclectic ears. Yet there's enough method behind the beat madness to have a go for dance explorers. We'll also give the man some points for breaking DJ rule number one; showing some enthusiasm by actually smiling in a photo.


Interpretations II By Jerry Bonham
Interpretations II By Jerry Bonham
Offered by UKMusicFiendz
Price: £11.50

4.0 out of 5 stars smooth trance from American spinner, 6 Dec 2002
It's always good to see a DJ given two discs to showcase their musical ideas, and in typical trance fashion West Coast spinner and San Francisco Spundae resident Jerry Bonham offers up one smoother set for home listening and a second to heat up the party.
The first hour glides smoothly, easily the standout of this package. Here Bonham displays a distinctive touch, layering out tunes with a slower pace and lower BPMs. Second Hand Satellites's 'Orbit 1.3' is the pretty cousin of Bedrock's 'Beautiful Strange,' sniping the same audio samples but making a better job of it. Lovesky's 'Drums 4 Better Daze' drops out the bass in spurts and would probably be a spectacular ambient piece with a bit of rework. Scattered throughout are a handful of other nuggets ('U Karumba') that positively envelop you on a proper sound system. Though lacking hooks for immediate appeal, disc one blends tracks with atypical beats for an engaging listen that holds up on repeated playbacks.
The back end veers towards the louder, American progressive-trance sound that's becoming increasingly embraced. Harder, faster, edgier, it suffers from some erratic pacing and a few stumbles. The lethargic chanting of Brian Stillwater's 'Thirteen' is a skipper. Starecase pick it up a notch with the driving 'Undecided' and 'Deep Love 9' is an expansive big-moment corker.
End result, Interpretations 2 is certainly enjoyable, but not the revelation hoped for. Still worthy for trancers. Disc 1- 4 stars. Disc 2- 3 stars. Final score: 3.5


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