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Coldcut - Let Us Play


Music review

I have not been so happy with a musical purchase in a long long time. But it would be misleading to refer only to the musical disk that comes in the two CD Let Us Play set. Also included is a CD-ROM which, if it were sold by itself, would be worth the price of purchase; providing a significant sample of Coldcut videos, background info, and a Coldcut dictionary (a la Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary) that caters to the DJ/technology-junkie culture in a way that is not only amusing, but inspiring as well.

Coldcut has been on the scene practically since its inception. To give you an idea, they were sampled in the seminal'80s audio collage "Pump Up the Volume"; they were kickin' and mixin' with Eric B. & Rakim back in the day; they were integral in the creation and development of the group Yaz; and if that isn't enough, they are Ninja Tune. They have helped to both define and push the art of the DJ and producer. Let Us Play is an excellent collection of where they have recently been and where they are headed. They pull and weave samples, sound bytes, beats and bass in a way that makes you move in steady syncopation.

Perhaps more impressive than the DJ/production skills they've picked up in the numerous years spent in studios, clubs, used record stores, and scanning CNN, is the fact that Coldcut actually has something to say. In a genre so riddled with talk and braggadocio, Coldcut has a message for the masses. On tracks like "Atomic Moog 2000" , "Timber", "Panopticon" , "Noah's Toilet" , and "Every Home a Prison" Coldcut revives the notion that music doesn't have to be vapid and/or whiny to have a groove. "Atomic Moog 2000" weaves together the story of our history with atomic energy and the bomb in a way that makes you move and makes you think. "Timber" has a similar effect in their use of chain saw and falling tree samples for a commentary on deforestation. The only point on the 13 track disc where they come off preachy is in the spoken word "Every Home a Prison" which swings from successful satire to full focus political statement.

Coldcut is one of the few groups out there that manages to create narrative in their songs. Oddly, this narrative isn't as impressive in the spoken word pieces, "Every Home a Prison" , or "Noah's Toilet " (an amusing commentary on the club/rave scene from those at the center) but rather in "Atomic Moog 2000", "I'm Wild About That Thing" (a highly amusing musing on sex) and "Pan Opticon".

The tracks that seem devoid of message add to the cohesiveness of the album, but are also capable of standing alone. "More Beats & Pieces" is the most block rocking of the remainders as well as being the most obvious and crowd ready track on the disc. "Music 4 No Musicians", "Space Journey", and "Cloned Again" all remain intriguing constructions that will carry you along on their own little trips.

To put it simply, Let Us Play is amazing. This is an album that everybody should own, and it may very well prove to be a standard by which a new electric music will be measured.

Tags : psychedelic
Rating : Teen - Drugs
Posted on: 2001-03-05 00:00:00