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Review: Si Begg Director's Cut

Label: Novamute

Recording under his sizable stash of pseudonyms, Begg blends, borrows and steals perhaps the world's most eclectic samples. On Director's Cut, Begg's deeply personal perusal of favorite styles and sounds, neither genre nor era are held sacred-lively dancehall scats skitter past celestial beings on high, and references tumble over each other in an infectious riot of grooves. Read more » 

Review: Various The Pick Up

Label: No Mayo

Production is the key to this Bay Area crew. The a-side has an okay-but-not-great beat, but the track is still noteworthy thanks to tight rhymes from the massively underrated (and unknown) Gennessee. Things pick up with the b-side, "Tell U (Remix)," as Mum's the Word's soulful track keeps things interesting. The Blends are vets in this game, and their experience shows through in their consistently solid output. Read more » 

Review: Various Framed & Formed

Label: Iron Box

Deep Five is Scott Findley's first appearance on Iron Box. Thick bass tones, smooth synths and tight percussion-an excellent production! Chicago's Soultek picks up where he left off on the last release, with a thick, deep groove and spaced-out sounds. My personal favorite is Brian Aneurysm's "Ignore Me"-cool hits and vocals over a jacked-up "gr." Read more » 

Review: Transformer Man Groove Based Technology: Part 1

Label: Re:Connect

Producer Ed Budd debuts as T Man with a simmering three-track EP of electro-breaks fusion. Wading in aqueous electronics, the rhythm of his a-side, "Invalid Command," emerges from its breakdowns with epic basslines and whooshing synths. The flip's slightly more downtempo "Evil Eye" and "Breaks in Disguise" keep it in crouch-and-growl mode, contrasting the other tune's vicious spring. Great start. Read more » 

Review: Canibus Spartibus

Label: Babygrande

One thing that really has me scratching my head is this: Why would XLR8R, a magazine that promotes "accelerating music and culture," even hand me a Canibus 12" to review? There even happened to be a press release that came with the single. Let's see..."Dear Friends, Rip The Jacker is a concentrated form of lyrical mastery that does not cut any corners with the rhyme content or imagery." Hmmm...sounds good. " Read more » 

Review: Various Folk, Jazz & Poetry

Label: Irma

Pretty typical programming here: Maria Muldaur, Michael Jackson, 4hero, all the usual suspects. Ummm...excuse me? This compilation plays a bit like a mix tape made just before sunrise after a few too many, but selector Matteo Sola manages to (mostly) pull it off. By attempting to draw lines between evergreen troubadour Terry Callier's "Keep Your Heart Right," Stereolab's kaleidoscopic "Percolator," and the previously mentioned Jackson's take on "People Make the World Go 'Round," Sola provides a mildly loopy soundtrack just fine for people-watching at a sidewalk caf?. Read more » 

Review: Pharaohe Monch Agent Orange

Label: Rawkus

One of hip-hop's most underrated lyricists melds clever metaphors ("I threw Iraq and Iran...Y'all wanna ask me Hussein") with a soul-baring hook for a scathing anti-war anthem. The track-a hypnotic, relentlessly pounding affair filled with quirky electronic gurgles-is more of a mixtape gem than a club banger. Read more » 

Review: Various bad habit EP

Label: Habit Recordings

One for the pounding darkside fans. Bkey adds urban jungle noises to his bump 'n' grind, Mason and Armanni Reign get panicky on "Firemin," and Mindmachine delivers some trippy trance-meets-Hardware sounds on "Angst." Finally, Dylan blends hip-hop, pitched-down Amens, and classical music touches to create a '95 vibe. Read more » 

Review: James Zabiela Sound In Motion

Label: Hooj

Once in a while you run across an unknown DJ who rocks your ass off and you wonder, "Why is he/she still toiling in obscurity?" No such questions came to mind, however, while listening to the UK label Hooj's latest Sound In Motion compilation, mixed by James Zabiela. OK, there's some nice track selection (funky electro here, bumping tech-house there), but Zabiela seems so bent on making the monotone beats match up, things don't get moving till halfway through both CDs. And at that point, who cares? Read more » 

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