Americanism The American system is a great external apparatus, an inexplicable machine which one might call the objective spirit of the United States and which over here they call "Americanism"; it is a monstrous complex of myths, of values, of formulae, of slogans, of symbols and of rites. ...

Music reviews from the pages of Think Magazine
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Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu (Virgin Records)

Current darling of the drum and bass scene Photek (A.K.A. Rupert Parks) never fails to do something different and usually manages to walk that fine line between experimentalism and dance floor potential.

Ni-Ten-Ichi-Ryu (which apparently has something to do with an old skool Samurai sword technique) sports shattered, skeletal breaks and a minimal bassline conjuring images of oriental blokes in unfeasibly ornate robes waving their big weapons around.

Although this is excellently produced and is a truly atmospheric piece of drum and bass, if you are looking for something that rocks you, you are probably better off buying Photek's "From and Function" series of 12"s. - Chris Sadler

Soul Mantra (Prolekult Records)

Stay Up Forever Record's Chris Liberator bangs out another of his patented acid-techno stormers for the equally superb Prolekult label. Anyone familiar with the Liberator/Stay Up Forever/Prolekult/Cluster sound will know exactly what to expect. This is true to form, with screaming 303 acid crescendos, banging percussion and a galloping bassline all present and correct.

Cynics may be forgiven for thinking that with Josh Wink and a host of other pretenders to the acid-techno throne all having had a stab, that this type of music is becoming a little staid and formulaic, but this release sees no abdication of sovereignty from the Liberators as original and best. - Chris Sadler

English 101 - The Remixes (Product 19 Records)

Possibly the finest twelve inches of hard house I have had the good fortune of coming across. With four different mixes to choose from you can't really go wrong. The first side boasts an acid breakbeat mix with a breakdown of mammoth proportions and an acid-line that severs heads from three hundred yards.

The second side has a slightly deeper, but none the less energetic mix and a 'bomb squad expo anthem mix' which halfway through morphs into a slowed down, funked up hip-hop section guaranteed to have you jumping up and down whilst smiling inanely. If need be lay siege to a record shop but procure a copy of this record at all costs. It's the cat's flaps. - Chris Sadler

Volume 1 (Drumcodes Records)

There is a lot of argument about minimal techno. Whereas some may say that it is merely lazy programming and has no merit as music, others claim it is the art of hidden melodies and creating a groove.

Beast Tamer is four tracks of dark, moody, minimal techno - a clean, heavy kick drum, the occasional high-hat and a distorted bassline with only very subtle variations throughout each tune. If you agree with the former argument don't buy this record. If, though, you agree with the latter statement this will be right up your street. - Chris Sadler

Shake the Bones (Hydrogen Dukebox Records)

A rather atmospheric collection of tracks compiled by HD. Ranging from light upbeat drum and bass blowing into total distortion, to sweetly melodic sensuality filtered with alto-sax blasts, its the perfect mood enhancer for a Sunday afternoon. Atomsmasher by Slab is five Kraftwerk jams in one.

If you dig ambient you'll love it all, if drum and bass rocks your world there's enough to hold you in, as well as some very innovative song structures and mixing, I feel the Godflesh boys in here somewhere. - Keith Kirchner

Blue Highway (Indies Records)

UK transplant and part time Fatal Shore guitarist/vocalist, Shöenfelt has laid more of his black heart down on this collection of 10 six-minute odyssies into the pain, the guilt, the futility, and the inevitable failure of relationships, especially if you try one with him. I hesitate to say Cave influenced, but its definitely there, even if Phil's croon has a slight lilting quality that makes it fresh. The full impact really comes out live, check them out. - Keith Kirchner

West (Warner Bros.)

I've been listening to Eitzel find novel ways of describing his alcohol addled misanthrope to be biased toward liking West. And indeed by the fourth listen I knew blocks of words.

This is a collaboration with REM's Peter Buck who also helped with the production, and could be the long awaited breakthrough everyones predicted for the reclusive songwriter.

The songs are reminiscent of middle-period Elvis Costello, cutting but wry, with the occasional ballad. Textured guitars and xylophones, back Mark on the title track that says it all, "If you have to ask....Then you'll never know." - Keith Kirchner

Breaking the Ethers (Sony Music)

Another project featuring REM's Peter Buck on guitar. This time he has put together an instrumental album of songs with a collection of acoustic musicians from the Pacific Northwest. A complicated piece of plastic, at time it can sound like a movie soundtrack and at other it can be as cacophonous as a Roland Kirk tune.

Borrowing liberally from middle-eastern music and African percussion, the 'songs' can be danceable or haunting like an Ennio Moricone soundtrack, the more you listen the more you hear, steel drums, horns, didgeridoo, etc. A stimulating sonic experience, reflecting a year's worth of work. - Keith Kirchner

Mix-Up Vol. 5, the May Day Mix (Sony Music)

Another of the adventurous compilations from legendary DJs for Sony's Mix-Up series. The beat is strictly house, and the mixing is seamless, but what was really interesting about this disc is how easily May slips elements on techno and almost R&B style backbeats together to create a constantly evolving mood.

The organic house of Jeff Mills and Freaks fits very well with the old school Lil' Louis sound, and the more funk oriented Groove Essentials style jams. A trip back in time, and maybe even a few leaps ahead of its time, it may be the finest of the Mix-Up series to date, psyche out. - Keith Kirchner

Love, Pussycats, and Carwrecks (Ninja Tunes)

Another extreme in the Ninja stable, Funki Porcici's drive-thru-window sonic haberdashery has the cool feel of some of the mellower Combustible Edison songs, but without the retro feel. It might be more like Elmer Fudd rabbit hunting music, high in the Himalayas.

So lush it borders on madness, I've tried listening to it in the morning (shut it off), tried to work to it (had a cocktail instead), listened to it on the tram (fell asleep, missed my stop, woke to a marimba beat in Řepy), and it never fail to unnerve, cool. - Keith Kirchner

The Prototype Years (Sony Music)

This double CD set contains the original versions of some of the dopest, hardest, drum and bass tracks from one of the master producers at work today. The originals (Dilinja, Codename John, Boymerang, and all the NKOB) flash fiery, tough, muscular rhythms with spacey breaks.

But the second CD really shines, with a fully mixed version of all ten tracks on the first disc, and four fresh ones, all enhanced, and slippin' over and under one another. Dark, pulsing, steel, one listen and your'e infected. The highest recommendation, especially for the second disc. - Keith Kirchner

Feelings (Warner Bros.)

Iconoclast Byrne's sixth release Feelings is a scramble of musical styles only hinted on in his last self-titled release, and continues his departure from exploring one genre at a time. On 'Gates of Paradise he melds Jungle and Country & Western into a sort of offhand punk rant, and on the first track 'Fuzzy Freaky' its a helping of Solid funk and marimba sash.

Over twenty different musicians came together to piece together the music behind David's latest rubric. His songs inevitably invite the listener to his or her own interpretations of the everyday, which makes him slightly literary, but has always been his trump card and his charm. Take a trip in his dreams. - Keith Kirchner

I Was An Angel (Deep Blue)

Local product! The boys who have provided the soundtrack for so many of our late night descents to the floors of the Marquis de Sade and U Hynků, mix influences like Tom Waits and Robert Johnson into their own brand of Jungle Folk Thang.

Stepping out as far as a jazz ballad ("Too Much Smoke", with an inimitable Karel Růžička saxophone solo) and some quasi-bluegrass hell-raising ("Darling Daughter"), this CD is a mix of funny and serious. Good grooves and very tasteful, but you'll have to look hard to find the CD; get one from Jeremy, or at most of the places the Squares perform. - Keith Kirchner

The Soul Assassins

After takin' the under-deserved whacks on Cypress Hill's undervalued 'Temples of Boom', DJ Muggs pops back up with his solo gig, an effort that busts off from his usual fare of bang, bang, boom and bong hits, invitin' in such heavyweight guests as Mobb Deep, and Dr. Dre for a heapin' helpin' of the unity vibe. Soul Assassins is the monster showcase of phat wax and deep lyrics, cooked up with the funky flavors from both coasts, following in the footsteps of the Wu Tang Clan for puttin' it all together in a BIG WAY.

As a matter of fact, Wu gurus RZA and Genius drop their dope rap 'Third World', a nice dish that goes perfect with other stella treats, my favorite being the last track, Wyclef of the Fugees, riffin' the Bible, The Godfather, the Bionic woman and heavy metal in 'John 3:16', a gangster tale that tells the truth, for all it's worth. If you like West Coast bass and smooth tipped, blunt style east coast hip-hop, you gots to add this to yer collection, pronto! -Jeffree Benet

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