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Review: XRAY Monsta Mixes 2

Label: Mindbenda

Arguably the most lyrically devastating crew in hip-hop today, the Monsta Island Czars have evolved from mysterious MF Doom associates to an unstoppable rap powerhouse. Building on the success of their classic debut Escape From Monsta Island, chief beat-maker Xray hits us with another 20-track collection featuring remixes, exclusive new joints, and unearthed gems from the vaults. There's not a bad track on here, from the hypnotic guitar-laced jump-off Witchcraft Remix" to the subdued closer "Covert Op" by Darcmind. Read more » 

Review: Amen Andrews Vol. 1

Label: Rephlex

Andrews is none other than Luke Vibert, unleashing the first in a five-EP junglist revival. Over four tracks, Vibert delivers the chaotic-yet-funky madness that once thrilled us about jungle as he lets the drums ricochet, the bass bounce and the atmospheres warp in the format's best tradition. Be sure to check the dread styles on "10000001 Style," and watch yr bassbins. Read more » 

Review: Instant House Awade (Joe's Jungle Sounds Dub)

Label: Natural Resources

Another monster remix courtesy of Joaquin "Joe" Claussell, who revisits a record he originally mixed in 1992. This has been one of my main staples for the last few months-thundering percussion and dub effects on top of a muscular synth bass that will make short work of any dancefloor. The b-side has stripped-down elements for even more creative possibilities in the hands of the adventurous DJ. Absolutely essential! Read more » 

Review: Tobias Thomas Smallville

Label: Kompakt

Although one of Kompakt's less visible family members, Tobias Thomas has been intimately involved in the Cologne techno label's dirty work since its earliest days. Not a beat-mixer (gaffes make it obvious it's not digitally edited), Smallville purports to reflect the growth of a small dancing community-small, as in beatless (Kaito's mesmerizing "Release Your Body") and narrow-ranging (it's similarly calm through select cuts by Aril Brikha, Jan Jelinek, and Le Dust Sucker). The release is a pleasant if temporary indulgence amidst so many balls-to-the-wall anthem comps out right now. Read more » 

Review: Heartlesss Crew Why? (Sticky Refix)

Label: East West

Almost ten years on, DJ Fonti and MCs Mighty Moe and Bushkin reach a new and most accessible peak. Lovely strings stab at this "baby-why-ya-leavin'-me-just-cuz-you-caught-me" jam which offers up tight vocal harmonies on the chorus and a bumpy ragga verse. Big and tasty, like...oh, never mind. Read more » 

Review: Bunny Striker Lee The Cool Operator

Label: Smugg

Although it's impossible to cover master Jamaican producer Bunny Lee's whole career on one single CD, the existence of The Cool Operator is justified by the fact that the songs on this compilation were picked by Lee himself. In addition to his famous "flying cymbal" drum patterns, Lee was one of the first producers to re-use his own riddims for different singers. Read more » 

Review: Chaampion Soul Excursions

Label: Life Line

A Brooklyn broken-soul debut hits the ground running-fluttery congos and thumping bass glide beneath graceful and heartfelt vocals. Champion Soul breaks out of the broken beat box with a sound that's as ethereal as that of any of their UK associates. "Cancion" and "Por Que" features Mariana Vera's nouveau-bossa blues against a thick bed of organic percussion, as "Down Easy" breaks up the skanky, dubby mood with Kate Dwyer's sultry soulful crooning. Read more » 

Review: Matthias 'Matty" Heilbronn Ridddim Part 1

Label: Wave

Before you purists razz the rash of house and techno DJ/producers rediscovering dub, check this slab, the flipside of which finds our Matty taking this reggae-tinged tech-house tune into the modern downbeat echo chamber `a la Zion Train. An epic ting. Read more » 

Review: Pole 45/45

Label: ~Scape

The only thing harder than originating a brilliant, singular sound of your own must be abandoning it for all the mimics who've run with your steez. Stefan Betke tries his hand at it, nevertheless, losing his trademark tech-dub stylings for some newfound hip-hop flava. And though 45/45 has its fine moments, it still feels like he hasn't quite found the new footing for which he's clearly searching. Still, Pole on a bad day is better than most on their best. Read more » 

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