Busta v. Stereolab?

No reason to rattle on at length. Just a note that a credited sample of Stereolab‘s “Come and Play in the Milky Night” (off the album Cobra Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night) serves as the tender backbone for Busta Rhymes‘ “Show Me What You Got” off Anarchy (Elektra/Flipmode). A visit to most major record-retail sites will let you A/B the two cuts. This isn’t the brand of collaboration that the Lo label had in mind (see the previous review, of the Constant Friction collection), but it’s well worth checking out.

Team-Up Marvel

Rest assured that if an album lists the following names with the promise of new music, then it’s worth picking up blind: Luke Vibert, Squarepusher, Cyclob, Mike Flowers, Stereolab. Now, mind you, the 14 tracks on Constant Friction (Collaborations 2) (Lo/hub100, 2000) feature almost twice as many musicians, because it’s a team-up, kind of like the old Marvel comics series, in which two brand name heroes share the stage for a limited engagement. Vibert is heard with slide guitarist BJ Cole, as the two of them were on their own recent full-length collaboration (Stop the Panic), but most of these pairings are unique. Squarepusher is a single-minded solo electronic artist, though he did record a duet with Aphex Twin for last year’s Warp Records anniversary album; here, he’s heard with Lo regular Richard Thomas on a downbeat track with loping bass and stuttering scatting. Thomas is heard elsewhere with noise-making jump-cutter Kid 606. Stereolab closes out the album, working with Hairy Butter. The band Rothko is heard with both Four Tet and the Monsoon Bassoon, on separate cuts. On both pairings, you hear analog and digital fumble cumbersomely for mutual elbowroom. It’s an awkward dance, but a valuable experiment, as is much of this collection.

Third Stream Goes Digital

If LTJ Bukem’s recent double album, Journey Inwards, left you wanting — if his hybrid of drum’n’bass and cool jazz was, perhaps, a little too sleek — seek out the new 12″ series from Kosma, called New Aspects in Third Stream Music and available from the German label Infracom. The first of five scheduled releases is titled “Odessa,” a fine, free-floating example of jazzy drum’n’bass (the B-side is a Peter Kruder remix of the same track). Like Bukem’s model, the underlying percussion here is drum’n’bass perpetrated by highly life-like instrumentation, an apparent drum kit tracing patterns we’ve come to associate with computers. The rhythm is spare and circular, with the odd beat dropped out for drama’s sake. Thick piano chords accentuate key moments. Laid on top is a host of lounge-oriented material, from operatic exotica vocals to John Barry-style strings. Computerized tones float by occasionally, but the overall effect is very “real.” The series’ title, of course, comes from Gunther Schuller’s formulation for a classically motivated form of jazz music: “third stream” was meant to describe the overlap of chamber composition and meditative jazz improvisation, anything from Stan Kenton’s conceptual big-band charts to George Russell’s theoretically informed small-band stuff. Kosma may simply be having fun with the term (and the period album graphics) but he makes a point, nonetheless, about the friction between computerized composition and its reliance on sampled material that was, once upon a time, not only live but spontaneous. Kruder’s remix is fairly non-intrusive. He has some fun with a wah-wah-ish sound, and drops bits of percussion and other elements off to the side of the stereo spectrum.

Vinyl Invaders

Name: Kid Koala Bonus Track Ӣ Rating: Kinda Cool Ӣ Format: Executable Software Ӣ Info

Zap the vinyl invaders. Essentially the old Asteroids game with mutant LPs filling in for the dangerous rocks. The program is titled Vinoids.exe. It’s available at the great turntablist’s site (kidkoala.com) and as a bonus file on his Carpal Tunnel Syndrome album. It’s a little larger than 6MB.

Virtual Mixer

Name: Db-7X7 Ӣ Rating: Kinda Cool Ӣ Format: Online Software Ӣ Play

Another entry in the popular “virtual mixer” format. A multitrack mixing board let’s you fiddle with a range of dance-floor songs. To quote the site, “Don’t like that bass line? Throw it out, boost the kick, and shake the walls.” Also available as downloadable application.