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Smooth S/t

Label: Real Estate

Cram Everything But The Girl, Morcheeba and Portishead into a blender, and you get the endearing, but somewhat derivative, Smooth. This Israeli band does a fine job of creating bleepy electronic soundscapes full of free-wheeling guitar work, shimmering synth lines and meandering melodies, but the end result is hardly captivating. "All Those Feelings" is a lovely piece of post-Radiohead rock and "Fill It Up" fits right into a dark, Generation X-directed TV police drama soundtrack. But the vocal theatrics and intense melodrama begin to wear a bit thin. Read more » 

Various Madlib: Shades of Blue

Label: Bluenote

Crate-digger and storied producer Madlib cooks up a tasty and tasteful chicken soup with Shades of Blue. The album is one part bitches brew: DJ Lord flavors original cuts from Bobby Hutcherson in the joint "Montara." It's one part weak sauce: snare-heavy rock beats collide with lilting flutes in the overly-beefed remix of Otis Jackson Jr.'s "Funky Blue Note." It's one part meat stock: by layering straight hand-claps over liquid vibes, Madlib discovers something haunting and beautiful in Ronnie Foster's "Mystic Brew." Smoke a blunt before listening, and try to get all the nuances. Read more » 

Uultrakurt & Pantytec Barry-Lynn Bronzon

Label: Telegraph

Cabanne and Gluck of Ultrakurt are back with some more crunchy goodness after releasing their solid cut, Post Office," last year and remixing Perlon favorite Pantytec. Zip and Sammy Dee return the favor on this EP, with a great remix of "2 Millimeters" that makes this a French minimal-techno gem. " Read more » 

Mr. G New Blood EP

Label: Shuffle

Colin McBean's main appeal is that his production is universal. His records are played by house, techno, and even trance (yecch) DJs. This one's no exception: for the house-head, "The Day After B" employs filtered vocal samples that slip in and out, while "Flux Tech" pounds the body into submission with only one escape-dance. Read more » 

Max Sedglley The EP

Label: Irma

Breakbeat Era/Reprazent drummer Sedgley slows the tempo of his day-job bands in order to go solo as a producer, and the man's got undeniable diversity happening here. Between the brazenly chunky non-clich?d blaxploitation funk of "Happy" to the perky, digi-soulful and two-stepping "Two-Way" and the rich downtempo steez of "Slowly," Sedgley leaves us thirsting for more. Read more » 

Various Osrltd001

Label: Offshore

Brooklyn-based DJ Clever brings together some heavies for this spotlight on his leftfield d&b imprint. On the a-side, Deep Blue's elegant "Do You Voodoo" draws spindly percussion and warm bass tones in the atmosphere, while Justice bumps traces of Amens against some rumbling low-end. On the flip, Pieter K's tentative "Rapport" flutters its drums and wows its bassline through emotive piano lines, while Graphic's off-balance percussion on "1000" proves almost sensual, though who knows whether it'll work on the dancefloor. As usual, Offshore takes risks . Read more » 

Skatalites From Paris With Love

Label: World Village

Bounce, bounce!

Lifesavas Spirit In Stone

Label: Quannum Projects

As the name implies, Lifesavas have a distinctly redemptive vision of hip-hop: they're out to save us from the bran-muffin beats and wack rhymes that have cartwheeled other rappers to mass popularity. Spirit In Stone has the glib, convincingly rankled tone of Mr. Lif's I, Phantom-though Lifesavas's lyrics are less recondite than Lif's-and the instrumental panache of Solesides' Greatest Bumps. MCs Vursatyl and Jumbo the Garbageman know how to chop it up, whether they're cracking about MC egos ("HelloHiHey") or exhorting fans to fuck the system in every way possible ("Resist"). Read more » 

Push Button Objects Ghetto Blaster

Label: Chocolate Industries

As his album title suggests, Push Button Objects makes "glitch-hop" by having his hip-hop blared over by competing boomboxes on the playground. His latest joint is divided between a variety show of who's-who in indie rap, and abstract beat explorations tagged with noise bursts. Things pick up midway with "Air," featuring beats that slam like a strait-jacketed uncle in the attic, and "Sleep," which scratches an MC's voice into that of an eight-headed jabberwocky. Ghetto Blaster finally sobers up at "Washington Ave," a space-out with DJ Shadow-esque scope, before UFOs arrive to end the world. Read more » 

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