The Ultimate Dream Collection | Heavyshift | Nicholas Naylor | ZZ Top
The Ultimate Dream Collection
In trying to describe Platipus Records' "The Ultimate Dream Collection" to myself, I debated: Is this a big byte of techno-flavored house, or a big byte of house-flavored techno? Admittedly never being much good at those labels, I finally decided that such categories are irrelevant because in any case this 2 CD set is a big byte of what it takes to make me feel like dancing, and not just out of boredom with repetitive BPM counts. Along the musical lines of groups like Eat Static, Orbital, and Meat Beat Manifesto, Platipus Records has culled tracks from 10 in-house bands and put together an interesting selection of original cuts and remixes that manage musical complexity and variation without losing that crucial danceability factor. Eminently danceable, listenable, and re-playable, "The Ultimate Dream Collection" is must-have for the techno fancier who demands more from the music than just the standard 2/4 - 4/4 beat mix.
The Last Picture Show/Discovery
It's difficult to overestimate the contributions of African Americans to the musical culture of the United States, and surely jazz is one of the major areas. Like all art forms, jazz has had its high and low points. Often sacrificing accessibility for experimentation in the past, jazz has been experiencing a kind of resurgence of popularity in the last few years, revitalized in no small way through the influence of some other great African American contributions: rap and hiphop. HeavyShift is a great example of that confluence, mixing traditional Chicago jazz/blues sax riffs with triphop/hiphop and a generous dose of the West Coast sound. My only complaint about this disc is that, clocking in at around 38 minutes, it's a bit short. On the other hand, when I recall all those long playing discs I program down to about 40 minutes to cut out the deadwood, I think maybe it's true that less is more. This one is definitely more.
Leyland under water sleeping/Raven
It's a funny thing about the ambient/new age music category: seems like it's the easiest music in the world to do. If you're like Eno, you just get a couple of simple, quiet sound loops and repeat them over and over again and put a variety of stuff on top and it sounds great, or at least intriguing enough to make people wonder what the hell you're up to. But if you're not like Eno, you take the same idea, make it more complicated and people just wonder why the hell you bothered. Unfortunately, this disc, with its pointless noodling and instrument plucking, has all the intrigue of dentist's office music, with none of the background tension to justify its existence. And if I see one more cover art photo of a long-haired, goateed, hyphenated-named Sensitive New Age Guy, I'll barf, I swear I will.
Even in the heyday of ZZ's "Eliminator" pop blues experiments, buying a ZZ Top album was alot like buying a bottle of Wild Turkey. You know what's there, that's why you're gettin' it. The ZZ sound has been nothing if not dependable: get down, hard partyin' rock 'n roll blues. At this stage of the game, there's no reason for the Top to change, and they haven't. This one goes back more to the Tres Hombres sound though, sticking to the basics of Dusty and Billy's bass and guitar, Frank's drums and passing the vocals around. It always surprises me how ZZ Top can play those same old riffs that I never heard before and keep it interesting. If you're not a ZZ Top fan, I doubt that this one will change your mind. If you dig the ZZ sound, you won't be disappointed. And, as usual, cool cover art.