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Review: Various Artists Fabriclive: John Peel

Label: Fabric

It's a CD. It's also a tombstone. A tombstone, rapturously signifying the utter, total, complete death of the DJ mix album. They're done. All the good ones have been made; don't buy any more. No offense to good John Peel, the people's DJ from Liverpool, cool enough for kids and adults alike, whose decadently eclectic taste in music runs the gamut from punk to noise to Motown, and has found ardent fans on BBC's Radio One for years. But here, his charming interspersed banter is absent from this truly eclectic, yet slammed-together selection. Why bother when you can stream his show from BBC.com? Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Frontier Life: Banda Sonora

Label: Accretions

The soundtrack to Hans Fjellestad's documentary Frontier Life mirrors the film by diving past the surface image of Tijuana to find the hidden culture that has arisen on the frontier. Members of Tijuana's Nortec Collective and San Diego's Trummerflora Collective contribute music created especially for the film. Drum machines, samplers and synth sounds combine to create quirky, bubbly bits of electro and edgy ambience, with the connections to the nortéo country music heritage well-hidden within the rhythmic patterns. Great music that is more laptop than Latin. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists DJ Smash Presents Phonography Volume 2

Label: Blue Note

Remember acid jazz? DJ Smash does. The man who became a club scene icon back in the early '90s via his residency at NYC's Giant Step and the Fat Jazzy Grooves series has updated his resum? Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Copehagen Dancefloor Classics II

Label: Murena

Think of the dancefloors of the rare groove scene of the '80s, with dancers strutting to the finest of jazz, funk and Latin tunes, and you'll have a good idea where compilers DJ Wunderbaum and Master Fatman are coming from. Since Copenhagen served as a longtime haven to many expatriate American jazz musicians-including Kenny Drew and Dexter Gordon-the origin should come as no surprise. What's surprising is the quality, depth and variety of these tracks, recorded in Denmark by musicians of all nations between the '60s and the '80s. A shining testament to the history of the Danish scene. Read more » 

Review: Axiom Reconstructions & Vexations

Label: Axiom

The latest offering from Bill Laswell's Axiom label offers a variety of mashed up reinterpretations of the two Tabla Beat Science albums and Radioaxiom: A Dub Translation. The approaches vary; Carl Craig and Midival Punditz latch on to Tabla Beat Science's natural uptempo, taking the hardline dancefloor approach, while 4Hero go the other direction into subharmonic Augustus Pablo-style dub. The final cut, Laswell's fantastic panthalastic drum & bass track, is the highlight of album. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Being Black: A Musical Companion

Label: Waxploitation-Spun

What is blackness? Brooklyn activist (and Zen priest) Angel Kyodo Williams already tried to answer that eternal question in a book fronting the same name as this compelling journey into the hip-hop multiverse. But sound works much better on the senses, dig? With a little help from heavyweights like Blackalicious, Rob Swift, Dilated Peoples, Jurassic 5, DJ Spooky and more, Being Black is a journey through the soul of expropriated agency, at once rump-shaking and mind-expanding. And there's not a bling-blinger or a ghetto fab in sight. Looks like the evening news got it all wrong, right? Read more » 

Review: Visionary vs. Division One Global Clash

Label: Nice + Smooth

Ragga-tinged jungle the way you like it-dark and driving vocalistic bass and drum pressure. From chopped-Amen loops to torrential snare downpours, from sinewy electricity to creepy atmospherics, from warm, familiar ragga samples to chatty nu kids Kid Rasta and MC Friendly, all these pulse with large, lurking bass, keeping the jungle fire lit. MC P hosts and narrates as Visionary and Division One go two for two-that is, until a strange drum & bossa tune ends things. It sounds like London but it's actually Detroit-raise a fist for the D, this is proper tuffness! Read more » 

Review: Via Tania Under a Different Sky

Label: Chocolate Industries

Tania May-Bowers knows how you spent those lonely nights: curled up on the floor, flickers of street light invading your room, and your ex's Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star records spinning endlessly. The last time it happened to Tania, she transformed herself into Via Tania, in which guise she writes ethereal dirges like a depressed female Sam Prekop. Under a Different Sky has a few surprises in store, including two dangerously off-kilter collaborations with Prefuse 73, who walks the narrow line between his cutup beats and Tania's gauzy vocals like a nervous new suitor. Read more » 

Review: The Majesticons Beauty Party

Label: Big Dada

The Empire truly strikes back with the second part of Mike Ladd's Infesticons vs. Majesticons trilogy of albums for Big Dada. After the Infesticons' force for good rumbled the Majesticons' machinations on part one, Gun Hill Rd, the Majestic ones have changed tack, and exchanged ostentatious bling for the more cloaked and sinister forms of corporate collaboration and co-opting of the old money Trusticons. Mike Ladd is a genius of sorts, and he and his band of talented MCs drop this pantomime of irony with unerring accuracy. Read more » 

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