Monday, 20 May 2019

St Germain ‎– Boulevard (The Complete Series) (1995)

Style: Downtempo, Deep House
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: F Communications, Play It Again  Sam

1.   Deep In It
2.   Thank U Mum (4 Everything You Did)
3.   Street Scene (4 Shazz)
4.   Easy To Remember
5.   Sentimental Mood
6.   What’s New?
7.   Dub Experience II
8.   Forget It

Credits: Flute – Malik Percussion – Miguel "Punta" Rios Piano – Alexandre Destrez Saxophone – Édouard Labord Trumpet – Pascal Ohse Producer, Mixed By, Written-By – Ludovic Navarre

Picture a world where each and every French dance band was unflinchingly bad; where every Air or Cassius or even Phoenix never existed since every homegrown, starving musician looked to somebody like ATB instead of St. Germain. Luckily, this is but a piece of fiction. Because Ludovic Navarre created such a saintly pseudonym, employing deep house, tittering breaks, and down-tempo attitudes that -- in over-simplistic terms -- virtually invented the entire French house movement that has crossed over more times than a Diana Ross impersonator. The question is, does being first make you any good? Taking cues from acid jazz and its chin-stroking underground, songs like "Deep in It" or "Street Scene (4 Schazz)" seem to shyly respond, "yes." It's only the preponderance of an odd sense of a Frenchman aping American black music that starts to cause the most alarm. The loose jazz excursions such as "Sentimental Mood" carries all the emotional weight of a sewing needle and the choice of blues samples (while being years before Moby even caught onto the idea) feels contrived. The album may exude an atmosphere of a musician discovering a new genre hybridization, it just doesn't quite reach the maturity of a fleshed out idea. A landmark album? Yes. An album that lacks the loveliness of an Air or the inventiveness of an Etienne DeCrecy? Also, yes. Boulevard has been looked upon as the "essential" Revolver or What's Going On or Dig Your Own Hole piece of French house fans' record collections. It's only a small indignity that the music itself rarely reaches such heights of its comparisons.
Dean Carlson / AllMusic

Headz : A Soundtrack Of Experimental Beathead Jams (1994)

Style: Downtempo, Breaks, Trip Hop
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Mo Wax

1-01.   Patterson - Freedom Now (Meditation)
1-02.   Attica Blues - Contemplating Jazz
1-03.   Awunsound - Symmetrical Jazz
1-04.   Nightmares On Wax - Stars
1-05.   La Funk Mob - Ravers Suck Our Sound
1-06.   M.F. Outa 'National - Miles Out Of Time
1-07.   PM - The Inside
1-08.   Autechre - Lowride
1-09.   Olde Scottish - Wildstyle (The Krush Handshake)
2-01.   DJ Shadow - Lost & Found (S.F.L.)
2-02.   Skull - Destroy All Monsters
2-03.   Deflon Sallahr - ... Don't Fake It
2-04.   RPM - 2000
2-05.   Palmskin Productions - Slipper Suite (I) Jeremy's Velvet Slippers (II)  Moonrakers (III) Unspeakable Acts
2-06.   U.N.K.L.E. - The Time Has Come
2-07.   Howie B. - Head West - Gun Fight At The O.K. Corrall
2-08.   Tranquility Bass - They Came In Peace
2-09.   DJ Shadow - In/Flux (Alternative Interlude '93)

The first double-disc/triple-vinyl installment of the Headz trilogy is easily the least of the batch. Though it features some heavyweights, the compilation suffers from a series of lengthy tracks that are too simplistic for their own good. Monochromatic and sluggish in long stretches to the point of approximating aural wallpaper, no amount of outer stimulation can add life to half of the material. Even an uncharacteristic Autechre track is weak. Nonetheless, decency is offered by the likes of DJ Shadow's U2-sampling "Lost and Found" (also a culprit of unnecessary length), Patterson's "Freedom Now," and DJ Krush's remix of Olde Scottish's "Wildstyle." Other notable appearances include U.N.K.L.E, Palmskin Productions, and Howie B. 
Andy Kellman / AllMusic

MC 900 Ft Jesus ‎– Welcome To My Dream (1991)

Style: Leftfield, Jazz-Funk, Downtempo, Poetry
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Nettwerk Europe, Play It Again Sam, SPV

1  Falling Elevators
2  Killer Inside Me
3  Adventures In Failure
4  The City Sleeps
5  O-Zone
6  Hearing Voices In One's Head
7  Dali's Handgun
8  Dancing Barefoot

Credits: Bass – Steve Dirkx Congas, Percussion – Mike Dillon Design, Photography By – Richard Krall Drums – Al Emert Keyboards, Guitar, Trumpet – Mark Griffin Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Chris McGuire Turntables – Patrick Rollins Producer – Mark Griffin

The follow-up to Hell With the Lid Off is darker, less cartoonish, and far more influenced by funk and jazz than before (if it weren't for the slightly whiny vocals over top of the opening cut, you might mistake the backing track for something from Miles Davis' fusion period). In a lot of ways, Welcome to My Dream was a precursor to trip-hop, layering hip-hop beats over jazzy breaks and dream-like instrumentation. The problem is tracks like "Killer Inside Me" and "Adventures in Failure": the backing tracks are killer and the delivery of the rhymes are top-notch, but they're ultimately a bit silly, which makes it a bit hard to take the rest of the album seriously. That's a shame because there are some great tracks here, like "The City Sleeps'" and "Falling Elevators." As before, DJ Zero scratches with aplomb. 
Sean Carruthers / AllMusic