Shot Down on Safari / Best of the Bad Album reviews.
Release Date: 01.28.03
Record label: System Recordings
Genre(s): Trance, Big Beat, Ambient, House, Trip-Hop, etc.
Drum 'n' Bass Rises from the (Critical) Dead
by: matt cibula
Yeah, yeah, it's really fashionable to slag drum 'n' bass, or jungle, or hardcore, or whatever you want to call that insanely fast and funky genre of techno dance music. Roni Size came out with a hell of an album last year, and you could almost cut the studied critical indifference with a plastic spoon. "Oh, la, is HE still around then? I didn't know ANYONE was still making that sort of music."
Well, that's all well and good for snobby critics, but drum'n'bass is still thumping right along nonetheless, especially in the UK (where I imagine Music-critic.com readers might be wondering "what's he going on about then, jungle is massive!"). And Bad Company UK is right at the head of the pack. They are known for mixing in "dark" melodic sounds over tight bazillion BPM rhythmscapes, and for keeping the d'n'b fire lit, and these two discs provide different but very valid introductions to their sound.
Shot Down on Safari is their newest LP, and it's just flat-out hot as hell. "Snow Cat" ricochets between something like 1950s cop show music and something like a fun nightmare's worth of robot beats. "Torpedo," last fall's big hit in the clubs, is just a great funky sci-fi mess, with great old-sounding samples about alien attacks ("No provocation, no warning, no survivors!") and some of the most intense and furious ProTools work to ever assault human ears or booty. Come to think of it, there's no way to dance to anything this hard and fast and doomladen ---- you just have to sit back and let it all be.
Other choice cuts include the wonderful raggafied opener, "Mo' Fire," where $pyder's amazing toasting anchors all that loud boomboom stuff, and "Wednesday," where they've taken a perfectly nice two-step lyric and sped it the hell up so it sounds like Alvin the Chipmunk with Craig David's careful facial hair. "Dosage" does illbient nicely, and it's lovely to hear how far off the path they're willing to go to make "The Hornet" sound creepy and freaky. Nine tracks and every one scores solid body-blows, with "Dogsploitation" and "Dr. Shevago" possibly uppercuts to the jaw.
But the second disc is almost even better. Best of the Bad is a mix greatest-of disc that goes through 21 BCUK hit club tracks in about 55 minutes. You'll never hear a more skillfully-mixed nor a better-sequenced d'n'b record. This is short attention span theater for real, though; just when you get into something like "4 Days" or "The Voice" it's gone to make way for the next track. This can get a bit annoying, but then you hear "Breathe" or "Nitrous" and all is forgiven. Just watch out for "Brainscan," because that track is so what's playing on the Blair Witch's car stereo.
So what's wrong with this two-disc package? Um, nothing, really. It aims for everything it hits, and hits everything it aims at. 03-Mar-2003 4:08 PM