Monday, May 24, 2004

Sonar Kollektiv

Forthcoming on

Jazzanova have made quite a name for themselves as remixers and producers over the past few years. 2002 saw the release of their debut LP, In Between, to critical acclaim worldwide. It put a blend of composition skills, programming talent and a wide-ranging musical background on display for mass consumption. On the LP, you’d swear some of the crisp drums were played live, but in fact, many times the breaks were painstakingly assembled in a studio with an astounding human element. The release of In Between also injected a new vitality into a genre that, while extremely strong in pockets, was sometime reduced to background music for cocktail consumption in trendy bars and outdoor cafes.

On the record, Jazzanova employed several guest vocalists and session musicians, including Vikter Duplaix, poet Ursula Rucker, and jazz legend Doug Hammond—names sure to resonate with fans of the nu-jazz, broken beat and soul genres. In addition, a high level of musicianship is on display: an example of this seen on the track, "Hanazono,"where the tempo changes from 11/12 to 3/4 to 5/6 in less than five minutes. Jazzanova aren’t just cratedigging cut and pasters —they have the theory and musical knowledge down to back it up.

After extensive DJ’ing and live tours around the world before and after In Between, they saw it fit to put together a proper mix of records they play out. This release also marks Jazzanova’s move from their longtime home at Compost Records (under their sublabel JCR—Jazznova Compost Records) to their own Sonar Kollektiv imprint.

In some ways, …Mixing is your average parabola-shaped DJ set. In their own words its “warm up, prime time, thanks – it was nice with you.” However, what makes this mix different is the stunning level of ecclecticsm. You can practically hear the collective shriek of delight emanating from the throats of Gilles Peterson Worldwide devotees, as so many genres get equal play in the mix, all with the same jazz and soul undertones tying things together.

Like Mr. Peterson himself, Jazzanova skillfully go from soulful R&B, hip hop and house to broken beat, jazzy breaks and synth heavy funk before taking the tempo back down again to finish things off. They don’t get bogged down in long proggy mixes, but rather focus on songs, sometimes using tools and samples to segue between one tempo to another when beats can’t be squared up. And their taste is precdictably stellar. Cuts from Philadelphia’s Jill Scott, an acapella King Britt’s Oba Funke psydonym and a few exclusives are on display, including Jazzanova’s cover of a Patrice Rushen boogie track from the 70’s. Also, former Mo’Wax artists Attica Blues appear with an excellent unreleased remix by Dixon.

…Mixing has something for everyone—from the most hardened trainspotter to the casual listener. The exclusive tracks and mixes will whet the appetite of those faithful to the scene, and on the other side of the spectrum, the mix will equally engage the casual listener with the sheer quality, rhythm and dancability of the tracks. It goes to show that a DJ mix doesn’t have to be one tempo gradually building into a throbbing cresendo, but rather it can be a celebration of ecclectic music culled from several genres.

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