|LTJ Bukem - Planet Audio|
|Music Disc Reviews DVD-Audio|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Friday, 11 February 2005|
A compilation of beats, riffs, hooks, mashes, slams and jams, Planet Earth takes some of the best mixes by a variety of DJs and MCs and spins them together in one fantastic-sounding CD. Hailing from the U.K., LTJ Bukem is well known throughout the world for his unique ability to create a fusion of many types of music with classic drum ’n’ bass. Often called the godfather of modern drum ’n’ bass, LTJ Bukem has made a career in combining hip hop, soul, acid jazz and tired dance music into dance beats that call attention to themselves not only for their energy, but also for their unique sounds.
Over the years, LTJ Bukem has produced a variety of albums that have compiled some of the best beats and ethereal backgrounds; these albums are known as the Earth series. This issue of Planet Earth presents a compilation of all new remixes taken from the Earth series, remixed not only for the stereo CD version, but also for an excruciatingly well-realized 6.1-channel DTS surround mix. These are not simply old tracks that have been remixed to new sound specifications; most of the remixes are the work of other drum ’n’ bass stalwarts such as Phluff, Dr. Jazz’s Universal Remedy and Makoto, among others.
Makoto’s “You’re Divine” presents some of the funkier side of jazz, while “Unconditional Love” presents more of a stylized ambience, less dance music and more shake your body until your brain starts pouring out your ears music. You could really either just lie back in the sun and soak it all in or you could strip down and rub sweat with the other dancing fools all around you. Your choice, but either one is appropriate. In “The Set-Up,” K-Scope really throws down the heavy bass and presents its track as more of a brooding dance mix than any sort of jazzy fusion, though there are elements of organs and electric pianos that flutter around in the background.
“Love Is” features a classic-sounding jazz song, sung remarkably by Dr. Jazz’s Universal Remedy, and simply made uptempo with a deeper bass line and a tinkling cymbal that never stops. This perhaps exemplifies the most complete cross between a dance beat and a classical jazz tune with accompanying vocals. The scatting that occurs in the track sounds absolutely marvelous on the DVD. Trumpets and saxophones help make the experience that of Tito Puente on acid. PHD and the Funky Technicians get truly funky with their offering of “Above and Beyond,” a relentlessly driving track that keeps the percussion at the forefront and makes your forearms tired just listening.
While this is a good compilation in terms of the actual music, it is a magnificent one in terms of sheer artistic and technical artistry. It only takes one listen to hear the fullness of each track and the incredibly complex-made-simple arrangements. There is so much going on in each track that it makes one appreciate the mixes that much more. Nothing drowns anything else out or tramples it unnecessarily. Not only do all of these mixers know how to create a distinctive and addictive sound, they also understand the intricate technical details involved in the ability of modern technology to create a recording that can simulate a live performance. It also calls worthy attention to LTJ Bukem’s ability to mix and to choose others who are masters in their own right. If you don’t have any of the previous Earth albums, try out this two-disc CD/DVD-A version of Planet Earth and keep it spinning.