Layo & Bushwacka! – Night Works (2002)

In the 21st century, musically we have never had it so good. Breakbeat in this century is vibrant and interesting.  Many genres of music go well with a breakbeat style rhythm. The British duo known as Layo & Bushwacka! delivered this album, a great listen in breakbeat from start to finish.

Let’s dive in.

Vinyl begins with some rather unusual sounds, sounding rather dark and foreboding. It’s a short introduction to the record, and a good one too.

Ladies And Gentlemen is next, which is also quite short. It has some interesting sounds in it, and a spoken word part. It’s a good way to kick-start the whole recording, and we enter into this listen with style.

Then we have the brilliantly good Shining Through. This piece has bongos galore, a great breakbeat rhythm and some Asian style sounds. It’s a fantastic track, and received much airplay in the EDM scene at the time. It is really that good, worth listening. You can dance to this piece as well, if you wish to. It’s a classic piece.

A very short piece with a middle eastern melody, Sahara, is next. It’s tripped out, and is proof of the mixing abilities of the duo.

We Meet At Last comes next. It has some dark sounds to boot and takes a while to really kick off. It’s not as good as the previous tracks, some of the sounds here are poor choice in the mix. But still, it’s a good effort from Layo & Bushwacka!

Mainlining follows and has a semi psychedelic feel to it. It has some plucked guitar parts, before seguing into the next piece.

The piece that comes next is Let The Good Times Roll. It has some African like melodic singing in it, possibly blues influenced, before hitting us with some good beats to spare. It’s an unusual piece, but given breakbeat’s huge ability to cross into almost any genre, is very good to hear. It’s rather melancholic in its melodies too.

The next arrival is All Night Long, sounding very quiet at the beginning. It flows into pseudo techno beats, and is a good piece to hear. It has some catchy vocal melodies in it as well, reminiscent of Scatman. This is a standout effort on the album, it should be listened to.

Strike is a seven second warping transition into the next piece. Nothing much to say about it given its length.

Sleepy Language arrives next, and boy! It is an awesome 21st century piece. It’s a good listen for when the mood strikes, featuring a great range of samples and ingenious production by the duo. Great work here. Perfect for late night listening.

The following piece, Blind Tiger, is a laidback piece sampling a blues singer and is just chilled as a listen. Good use of delay based sound effects are here. A chugging piano and great saxophone is in the middle here, followed up with a descending bass line. It’s an interesting listen for sure.

The interlinking piece Automatic sounds very machine like. It has some psychedelic sounds which are interesting, before launching into the next piece.

Love Story is a quiet but melodic piece indicating the emotion at hand. It has techno beats in it as well. It’s a good instrumental that is reminiscent of Underworld. Not bad at all. It has an odd midsection to it, before bouncing back to the beats.

2mrw starts off with digitally enhanced beats and sounds IDM like. It jumps into a computerised and futuristic style of song that is fresh and interesting.

The remix entitled Love Story (vs. Finally) (Bushwacka! bootleg version) is very simple and catchy. It’s a good bonus addition, and a subtle, funky listen. The vocal piece in the centre is brilliant.

Following is It’s Up To You (Shining Through) (Radio Mix) which is a great remix of Shining Through with great vocals added. It’s good to hear such variety here, and goes well on this place of the album.

Let The Good Times Roll (Reworked) is another short remix, but a very good one, bringing in more catchy elements to the music at hand. It’s punchy and danceable. Very good effort.

Where Did We Go Wrong? seems to sound just awful. Good thing it is at the end of the album and that most of the rest of the album is listenable. Let’s pretend that this cut did not exist for the most part, it’s ordinary. Even the vocals on this are bad per se. And once this awful track is over, we conclude our journey.

This album is a decent listen overall. For those who love atmospheric sounds and mixed in with breakbeats, be sure to check out this album. You may enjoy it immensly.

7/10

Horsepower Productions – To The Rescue (2004)

It is very rare to hear such a great and inspired album by any EDM act, even in the 21st century. This album is as good as it gets in the genre of Breakbeat. We have your classic Breakbeat sound, mixed with some Asian style influences for the most part. This could be considered a subgenre of Breakbeat. But even so, it is really just a great listen. Let’s dive in.

Golden Nugget samples an old cowboy film and is brilliantly effective for listening. It is simple, yet catchy. The bass riff and sounds on this one are headbanging for sure. Could you say the same about many musical acts today? The logical answer seems to be no. But this piece is fun and entertaining too. A nice, fresh start to the record.

Synbad follows, and sounds rather James Bond like in the intro. It has a very middle eastern melody throughout, along with some beats that are delicious. This is seriously great music, so fresh and inspired all the way through.

The atmospheric Voodoo Spell arrives afterwards and is rather dark and dense listening. It’s not dull though. It’s psychedelic and interesting nonetheless. Good stuff. It has a sitar in it too.

The following track Marseilles Connection is a great head rush sort of piece. It bursts into multitracked beats, subtle flute like sounds and shifts into differently organised sections. It’s really good to hear this sort of thing. It’s a great musically accomplished piece. It goes well over six minutes, but is just the right length for listening to.

The next piece, Special 131 follows and it is a futuristic instrumental piece. It’s a little dull to be fair and drags on a bit. But it is still fitting the album well, signalling a cohesive album regardless. It does have some good melodies though.

Galaxian follows, which is an improvement on the last piece. It’s quite catchy, in fact. The sample of a crying lady is somewhat annoying though. It’s still a good effort. One can’t help but think that this is EDM for home listening, not for partying.

Hand Of Death is fantastic. It samples some commentary about Chinese history to begin with, along with chanting and other great samples of fighting as well. It is a brilliant mixture of western music and Asian music. More pieces like these should be done in music history, it fits the early 21st century perfectly.

Up next is Classic Deluxe – Part II , and what a lush piece this is. It samples nature sounds, has brilliant melodies and bongo beats to match. It’s a really nice piece, worth the 11 minutes of listening that it goes on for. It’s epic.

The next piece up is totally brilliant. Sholay – Epic Mix by guest musicians High Plains Drifter and Goldspot Productions is just pure awesomeness. It is based on the Indian Bollywood film of the same name. The melody is so moving. By this point, this album is one of the best representations of the 21st century. This piece in particular is majestic.

On Tha Run – Horsepower Productions Remix is a good remix to finish the album off. It has some interesting sounds within this track, and ends the album nicely.

Not everybody digs Breakbeat or EDM. But, if you are looking for a new way to kick off the 21st century, give this a shot for musical taste. It is a true representation of what music nowadays should be about. An epic listen indeed.

8/10

DJ Icey – DJ Icey Presents Y4K (2006)

DJs are not to be underestimated in the 21st century. Their ability to hone a decent mix and utilize their own craft is something special, and something that has not been done so before much in the history of music.

This mix is a good one. It’s filled with awesome tracks to sink your teeth into. If you love the sound of breakbeats, or just new something cool for a change, no doubt here is a good place to begin,

We begin with Merka’s I’ll Be Here. It’s a simple and minimalist track which leads into the mix in general. It’s nothing special, but a good start to the mix.

Following up is a rather deep and meaningful track. IIs’s Loving You (Atomic Hooligan Remix) is a good example of vocals, breaks, and beats mixed together into a good piece. It’s sonically reassuring, given the piece itself. Worth listening to.

Plodout by Vlad follows, and it’s just that, but never gets dull to listen to. It combines some beats and some basic electronic sounds to boot. It’s a good one.

Feelin’ Kinda Strange (Bass Kleph & Nick Thayer Remix) by the Drummatic Twins arrives, and this mix really kicks off. It’s so catchy you’ll be dancing for days to it. It has a bunch of killer sounds and samples, with a climax that is euphoric. Killer.

After that, we have This Feelin’ (Boy 8-bits Grindhouse Mix) by AB/DC and it has some warm sounds throughout. It’s an okay track but serves as an anticlimax after the previous tracks, which is a little disappointing.

The next track is a highlight. Like This (Main Mix) by Artcrime samples John Lennon screaming and has a bunch of interesting sounds, samples, and breakdowns to keep one interesting whilst listening. It’s awesome.

Never Gonna Stop The Show by General Midi is a good rap/breaks piece. It is direct and to the point, and just fits in well with the rest of the mix here. It’s good to hear some decent rap for a change.

Come Closer by DJ Icey himself is theatrical, and brilliant. It samples a lady asking for some, and has some great acid like sounds in it. It’s a great touch to the mix.

The following piece, The Ride by Move Ya! and Steve Lavers is a futuristic romp through music. It’s awesome no doubt, but also by this point in the mix, we can recognise the greatness of the overall mix. Just fantastic.

The next one is acid galore. Everybody Get Up (Circuit Breaker Remix) by Transformer Man has a bunch of great rhythms to boot as well. It fits into the mix nicely.

San Pedro by DJ Icey is a much more chillax sort of vibe by DJ Icey himself. It settles down the party like atmosphere after the previous few tracks. DJ Icey is an accomplished musician, by all means.

All Your Love (Deekline & Wizard Club Mix) by Deekline is a strange one, with pounding beats and cut up vocals that make no sense whatsoever. It fits the bill nicely, however.

If there is one track to dislike on this mix, it is likely this one. Grizzle (Vlad & Ardisson Remix) by Smithmonger & Kobi is dull and drags on quite a bit. Still, it has its place here on the mix.

We end the DJ mix with DJ Icey’s Nikita. It’s okay but sounds as though the mix is a little burned out at this point. We conclude it after 5 minutes of solid listening.

For anybody who is a fan of EDM or similar types of electronic music, this compilation is worth tracking down. It is much better than you’d expect from a Breakbeat artist, and it is a good solid hour or so of listening. If you love breaks and beats, look no further. DJ Icey does very well here.

9/10

The Chemical Brothers – Dig Your Own Hole (1997)

The Chemical Brothers are brilliant. After their first and solid album Exit Planet Dust, they sought to expand and explore their own sound further. This album has the name taken from some graffiti nearby their recording studio. It’s a good title for such an album.

The music itself is just amazing. It takes their mixture of rap, acid house, breakbeats, and general EDM spirit further than the previous offering. It sounds as though it was recorded in the 25th century, not the 20th century. And above all, it’s a classic of its type.

We hear an extended intro beginning which mixes into Block Rockin’ Beats. It’s an awesome club piece that still sounds fresh and mega today. With some expert samples in an original song, The Chemical Brothers are back and once again on top form. The bass part is very catchy.

Next up is the title track Dig Your Own Hole. It has a real bass guitar funky riff and shows off the duo’s mojo ability when it comes to making music. It has some karate like samples in the midsection and never gets boring.

Elektrobank follows and is the most catchy of all the songs on the album, which is no doubt why it is an extended piece. It samples DJ Kool Herc in the intro and poses the rap question: “Who is this doing this synthetic tape of alpha beta psychedelic funkin?” It is an underrated gem by the duo.

Piku arrives next and sounds like a true anthem for people in Japan to dance to. It’s a futuristic and psychedelic ride with a soulful sounding midsection which demands repeated listens. Just fantastic.

The hit song Setting Sun comes next featuring Noel Gallagher of Oasis on vocals. It’s a nod to Tomorrow Never Knows by The Beatles, in fact so much so that The Chemical Brothers were threatened with legal action from The Beatles for this recording. However, it’s an original piece. It’s very good, so much so that Noel himself regularly covered this song on the Oasis tours of the time acoustically. It’s so psychedelic and colourful this song that it’s a fantastic listen. Just don’t forget your 3D glasses as well.

The overlong It Doesn’t Matter follows and it’s really repetitive, but sits nicely in the album regardless. It’s designed for crazy dancing, not necessarily intellectual listening. Perhaps a rethink on this particular track would have worked.

Don’t Stop The Rock is a DJ sort of mix piece. It segues into the pieces before and after it. It’s okay, but not tremendously good.

Get Up On It Like This has some rather trippy and humourous samples throughout. It sounds rather weird but flows well all the same.

The following tune is Lost In The K-Hole which is a direct reference to Ketamine, a psychedelic drug used in EDM culture. It’s really superb and features some brilliant bass, cut-up vocal samples and a chilled sort of vibe. A great piece on the album.

The next song is rather nice to listen to. Beth Orten sings Where Do I Begin, a semi-acoustic and interesting piece in itself. It talks about the aftermath of a crazy night out and builds up and breaks into some banging beats. An excellent song.

The Private Psychedelic Reel is absolutely fantastic, and that’s an understatement. It blows away any crappy punk wannabe bands of the time and goes on for nine minutes. It’s never boring though, with a Sitar riff, soul touching sound effects and banging drum loops. It falls apart at the end once the track finishes, and the album concludes there.

The Chemical Brothers really excel here. This is their defining and best album. They blow away many of their competitors here with their sound, which is psychedelic, electronic and futuristic. If you like the sound of a very unique but fantastic and popular EDM album, be sure to check this album out. It’s not trashy like most EDM. Instead, it is a great fusion of EDM and art.

8/10