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Various Artists - reBOOT: Notes For the Next Generation Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 July 2005

various artists

reBOOT: Notes For The Next Generation
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Om
release year: 2005
performance: 6
sound 8
reviewed by: Paul Lingas

Image A mostly internationally-flavored dance compilation, reBOOT aims to raise funds to benefit African children who have been orphaned by AIDS. At 15 tracks and nearly 80 minutes of music, this is a worthwhile album to own, not only because it supports an important cause but because the amount of good music is worth the price.

The progeny of Om Records and NextAid, a Los Angeles-based humanitarian organization, this fairly impressive mix features many well-known artists such as Thievery Corporation, Louie Vega, Adam Freeland, Kaskade, Gina Rene and others. All have either created original music for this effort or have provided previously unreleased tracks, creating a totally new mix of dance beats that range from house, soul and reggae to Afro-beat and spoken word poetry.

Thievery Corporation’s “Truth and Rights” begins things with a reggae feel. Upbeat and funky with the group’s distinctive vocals and summertime feel, it slides into Louie Vega’s equally flavorful though much more bassy “Steel Congo.” A purely instrumental track, steel drums and congas play the biggest part in a Caribbean blending of tropical sounds. Pour yourself a glass of rum and sit back and watch the sunset to this or get up (keep the rum) and dance until the lights come up. Kaskade’s “Samba Love” begins the turn into less tropical and Latin-flavored dance tracks, so that by the time we reach the end, we’ve slid into more of a European influence, with some American-style grooves providing the bridge.

“Come Together Love Better” keeps up a good beat while pulling almost everything back to a seductively mellow jazz overtone, thanks in no small part to the smoothly rich vocals of Gina Rene. “Forgive Me” follows two tracks later with much of the same deliberate, heavy, dripping with love, slow grind style. Troydon’s “Listen Up” pulls the feeling back towards the center with a heavy but more danceable beat, along with some funky electronica.

Compilations should be scrutinized because they often feature one or two good songs by known artists, with the rest just filler. Compilations put together for a cause, on the other hand, often turn out well because the issue itself tends to draw in many artists and performers who feel strongly enough to provide their talents for a worthy cause. What can be a problem in these cases is album continuity. Due to the fact that the tracks are provided by each artist independently, it is up to the album producer to choose the running order and possibly to remove some tracks that simply don’t belong with the whole. That can become a sticky business when artists are donating their time and effort, and the result can be a somewhat uneven sound. While all of the tracks here are strong, they range so widely that there is a lack of cohesion throughout, raising the nagging question of just how good the album is, taken as a whole. The individual tracks are for most part strong; just don’t expect dance music that will keep the party hopping all night long. This 80-minute musical journey has its ups and downs and must be viewed as a compilation and not a cohesive album. Keep that in mind and you’ll have yourself a nice dance mix that will have supported a noble and often overlooked cause.

This is a particularly crisp-sounding disc, which is partly due to the fact that each track was recorded very recently. Dance music seems to benefit especially from the continuing advances in music technology. The ability to digitally sample, reproduce and mix various elements, as well as to program (or not) beats and/or riffs, hooks and whatnot provides not only a great sound but a clean and sharp one that is fantastic on speakers of many types. It would be great to hear this music either live or on a 5.1 channel mix, but the stereo CD will have to do.

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