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[Off The Record]
Stars graphics
Various Artists
(2000 Black/Planet E)

How much farther can dance grooves fragment, hiccup, and accelerate before they become totally undanceable? To judge by the beats presented on The Good Good, a compilation that highlights the newest micro-genre sprouting from London’s DJ scene, we’re pretty close to the edge. Dubbed " broken beat, " this crispy new substyle revolts against the 4/4 hegemony of house and techno with freaky drum patterns that will induce dizziness; it’s hard enough to keep track of the groove, never mind dance to it. But in London, it seems clubbers are always up for a good polyrhythmic challenge.

Here’s the broken-beat recipe: ear-twisting Afro-beat patterns, full-kit Billy Cobham–style fusion, Latin clave hits, and off-centered kick-drum accents combine into a detailed sound that marries the freneticism of drum ’n’ bass, the sultry sway of deep house, and the asymmetrical pauses of post-Timbaland hip-hop. Whew. Jungle pioneer Dego McFarlane (from 4Hero) founded the 2000 Black label, and The Good Good compiles 12 singles from the label’s first year, broken beat’s nascent beginnings. Some tracks feel like uplifting deep house (Pavel Kostiuck’s " Brand New Day " ); a few could pass as geeky jazz fusion (Da One Away’s " The Mind " ); others sound like samplers bursting out of their flimsy metal casings (Nubian Minds’ " Space Junky " ). Holding the disc together is that sense of a collective existential DJ crisis — ex-junglists trying to make sense of a post–drum ’n’ bass universe. It’s worth listening to their struggle.


Issue Date: April 5 - 11, 2001

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