Can the Ninja do no wrong? "FunKungFusion"--30 unshabby cuts, count em-- should be required listening in funk school, no questions asked. When I broke the seal on my copy, disc one of the two, much to my chagrin, was not in its pouch. Is someone at the pressing plant bodylocking to Chocolate Weasel, appreciating the fact that the version of Coldcut's "More Beats & Pieces" was recorded live in Koln, salivating over the Roots Manuva teaser for their forthcoming album on Big Dada and the sneak peek at Kid Koala's coming "Carpel Tunnel Syndrome" track, smiling smugly now that he's finally snatched something good? Well I've finally heard both discs, sucka, and now I'm privy to all that plus the goods on new Neotropic, Burnt Friedman, and Irresistible Force albums that are in the Ninja pipe and sure to be smokin'. Just stop sampling MacLaren's "Buffalo Gals". It's 98, not 82.
Oxygen Music Works HQ in NYC is readying itself for a busy summer. Daum Bentley (known for his work as Freaky Chakra for Astralwerks) shows another side of his funky self as Glimmer Of Dope. "Son Of The Funk Bump" is remixed in numerous versions and released over two separates twelves. Wildlife is an acoustic jazz duo from Brooklyn. Their gentle "Listen" is flipped with "In A Silent Way" and remixed for the hustlers by labelmates Lord Of Mercy. Keep an eye out for the breaks of DJ Hz on "Arg" and the housier vibe of "Deep Kemikal" from Madam. Do you like Mantronik? The one born Canadian but seduced by the big city lights across the border is back and he's "Mad". Rapped by Traylude (sounding like MC Lyte), remixes come from teamups with the UK's Geek and Quest. I really wanted to like this, but these agressive beats really come across as a Prodigy knockoff. Better are the Killer Robot and Bleecker Street Hip Hop mixes where the Man updates his King Of The Beats formula instead of obliterating it. The "I Sing The Body Electro" full length will jiggle the UK in August and here in the fall, as will Danny Wang's "Best Of Balihu" compendium. Wang's take on the funk is fresh and exhilarating because he makes a conscious effort to avoid the sameness we see too often. What gets his back up? "Trite and repetitive disco samples," he explains, "that over- compressed overloaded 909 swing beat, and big black non-divas belting about absolutely nothing." This has that Ballistic Brothers vibe where everything falls into the pot and a delicious stew of sound is the result.
Rasco comes out swinging on his new one for Stones Throw, taking on all wack MCs, trashtalkers, and anyone else that lacks his finesse. "What It's All About" will have you staking out your local shop waiting for the "Time Waits For No Man" album to drop. Ones to play in the UK drum n' bass arena include Klute's "Total Self" (4 tracks on the vinyl and a Dom & Roland mix of "Perceptron" if you go for the disc) and the dark bizness from Mask, Gang Related, Swabe and 3 Way blowing up on the "Combustion" doublepack along with J Raq's "Waiting For The Bass" on Full Cycle.
Phil Western's "The Escapist" is the fourth Map full length. It enforces the "quality not quantity" adage for the Vancouver label. Western's recording career is diverse, working with anyone from the defunct Skinny Puppy to the still kicking Tranquility Bass, and this is reflected in these fourteen songs. He weaves grungy electro and techno pieces reminscent of his efforts with Download and Plateau with heady slowtempoed numbers that reflect his worldly explorations alluded to in the title. Roger Cobernuss' "Teenage Secret" as Kerosene is in a similar vein, but while there are moments of hedonistic electronic mayhem that make this worth a listen, things spiral out of control on a number of occasions. Check it out for yourself. Brooklyn's Trumystic Sound System is yet another denotation from a borough that is stealthily burrowing its way into eardrums worldwide. Think WordSound's meld of dub with drum n' bass, then add in a cleaner production (with some needed feminine input), spoken and sung vocals, and you're in the right space. Divaship, Ish, Dr. Israel, O.H.M., Mutamassik, and Soothsayer have something important to say and you can't deny it.
"Magnetic Blue" contributors and Post Contemporary artists Legion Of Green Men and Watershell have new releases ready. "Floating In Shallow Water" is the forthcoming album from LOGM, while the latter's "Deep Field View" EP is "begging to be unleashed" according to my sources. If you're in the Toronto area, the place to be Monday nights is Color By # at Syn (214 Adelaide; free entry; 595-5115). This SNUG Industries presentation has residents Sugar Daddy Moth, Sunboy, Pcon's Lex, and special guests going outside the lines with big beats, breaks, and dub.
Toronto's Switch have two new comps ready to go. "Points In Space" is a chill out album featuring Auracle, Blade U.S., Do Make Say Think, Silent Floor, while "Alt. Noise Vol 2" is harsh Japanoise from CCCC, K2, MBSR, Hijokaiden, Motte, Ursege, and more.
Crossing the pond, we find Zipdog getting good response on Emperor Sly's cover of "Rockit" and a US deal is in the works. Keep those digits twisted. "Club Meets Dub V4.0" is likely to feature Roni Size, Mad Professor, Serious Danger, Astralasia, Pfink, Emperor Sly, Balafonic Allstars, Bong Brothers, Brylewski, Dubolition, DJ D, Purple Boys, and The Rootsman. The second "Global Explorer" is coming together. The "Dub Clash" series is set to feature better- known acts with ones of less reknown, and the chill meets dub "Amnesia Music Bar" and a breakbeat/leftfield/dub collection are planned for the fall.
Cognition Electronics Top 10
1. Various--"FunKungFusion" 2 X CD (UK/CAN Ninja Tune)