Sunday, July 10, 2005

after hours groove


Back to Mine
Everything But The Girl
(2001)

It's 3 a.m. and you're back at your place after a great night out on the town. Too early for bed, you want to take the groove downtempo just a bit, maybe over some drinks and the right CD in your stereo. Problem is, there's nothing in your music collection that capably decelerates, with any degree of justice, the vivacious flow of earlier in the evening. What to do? Enter Ultra Records' Back to Mine series of late night mix compilations. The clever premise: seven years ago, Ultra began to ask different DJ's and artists that you might normally hear in the clubs to come up with their own mix of selections for home listening after a night out. The results are 20 (and counting) different volumes from 20 different artists, which ought to be more than a good enough start for the chillout portion of anybody's veritable music collection. My favourite in the series is the compilation from Everything But The Girl, which was released in 2001.

London-based duo Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt (a.k.a. Everything But The Girl) have been making fantastic music for years now, so it's no surprise that quality was on tap when they made this record. The first thing that'll strike you here is the variety - dare I say that this will be only place you'll ever hear the likes of artists such as Slick Rick, Mary Margaret O'Hara and Juan Atkins on the same album. The second thing you'll notice is how well the entire record hangs together, which, given the variety, is no small feat. Third, there are no weak links here so just press play. The bottom line: this is smart, sophisticated, grooving for its intended after hours purposes. Also good for when you're cooking dinner for that special someone or for trendy dinner parties.

dingobear track selections:

1. Friends and Enemies. DJ Cam. Parisian hip-hop/chillout aficianado kicks things off with a contemporary, jazzy intro.

3. The Bayou. Deadly Avenger. Hypnotic moodiness blending the slight edginess of electronic tension with radiant passages of piano. Sounds vaguely familiar as if it came out of the movie you saw last Friday.

4. Stars All Seem To Weep. Beth Orton. Those who've heard Beth Orton love Beth Orton. This "Beth-head" says Stars is one of her best. Ben Watt co-stars on the synthesizer.

6. Cascades of Colour. The Ananda Project. Pure house. The CD inset says: "Tracey's favourite tune of the year when it first came out two or three years ago." If it's good enough for Tracey, it's good enough for me.

7. Do It Now. Dubtribe Sound System. Is this what happens when hippies do rave? Eleven-and-a-half minutes of sublime, West coast house from the veteran San Francisco-based duo of Sunshine and Moonbeam Jones. The centerpiece of the record.

8. A Wonderful Life. Carl Craig. Shimmering beats from the second generation Detroit techno legend. (Off topic: I can't seem to find Carl Craig's Landcruising and More Songs About Food and Revolutionary Art albums anywhere in continental North America ... if you know where I can pick up a copy, please let me know.)

10. Silent Treatment. The Roots. Organic hip-hop from the underrated Philadelphia-based rap group. Worth a special mention: Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson on the drums, who's quite possibly the finest drummer of our time.

12. Someday We'll All Be Free. Donny Hathaway. Goodness, what a voice. Quoth the CD inset: "Donny Hathaway must be one of the greatest unsung heroes of black music ... The best singer ever, who makes you sometimes wonder whether it's ever worth recording anything again ... Music like this is almost enough to make you believe in God ..." Amen. You have to pick up this album just to hear this track.

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