CD Reviews

Vitamin D, Evolution, Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One

DUBSTEP

Datsik Vitamin D (Dim Mak)

Now this is what dubstep should sound like! With everyone jumping on the bass-driven bus, an exorbitant amount of crap made it onto Beatport.com (“the world’s largest dance music community”) and into playlist. But if you’ve previously thumbed your nose at the genre, give Datsik’s debut LP a go. Wonky in all the right places while still maintaining melody, everyone from hip-hop to metal fans might find a fitting track. There’s the steady flow of Snak the Ripper on “Fully Blown” and gravely Messinian on “Napalm,” plus the other end of the spectrum via the signature sound of Korn’s Jonathan Davis on the delightfully dark “Evilution.” (The album’s only real hiccup is the glitchy vocal sample on “Don’t Feel Right.”) With familiar samples peppered throughout, Vitamin D culminates with Datsik and Z-Trip teaming up on “Double Trouble,” thus ending the audio journey on a high note. ★★★★☆

TRANCE

Paul van Dyk Evolution (Vandit Records)

Dance-music superstar DJ/producer Paul Van Dyk may not be breaking any new ground with Evolution, but his sixth studio release is a solid offering. Sweeping synth lines accompanied by airy vocals prevail thanks to guest artists including Sue McLaren, Adam Young (Owl City) and Sarah Howells, plus the ethereal sounds of Plumb on the standout “I Don’t Deserve You.” As Van Dyk continues to fight falling into the trance box, Austin Leeds joins on “Symmetries” and “Verano” for a house-y layer, plus some new-generation flavor thanks to collaborations with Arty. True fans won’t be disappointed with the throwback sounds of the banging “Dae Yor” featuring Ummet Ozcan, and epic builds and breakdowns on “Lost in Berlin” with Michelle Leonard. Evolution is another album from the legendary van Dyk that the #TranceFamily can get behind. ★★★☆☆

MINIMAL

Geoff Barrow & Ben Salisbury Drokk: Music Inspired by Mega-City One (Invada UK)

Don’t make the same mistake we did: Just because Portishead’s Geoff Barrow is involved, don’t assume Drokk will have downtempo beats, hip-hop samples and haunting vocals. Teaming with composer Ben Salisbury, the duo set out to score a soundtrack not for an existing film, but the 2000AD comic-book series, specifically inspired by the fictional city-state from the series’ cult classic comic Judge Dredd. It’s an admirable project with musicianship and innovation. Unfortunately the results are only lackluster and, to be frank, super boring. While some electronic music is intentionally sparse, the entire Drokk album blends together into a single collection of simplistic sounds (or often noise) perhaps a connoisseur of Richie Hawtin’s Minus label might appreciate. But the average listener looking for a taste of the innovation and originality that made Portishead so cherished will be sorely disappointed. ★☆☆☆☆

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The Paris Wife

In The Paris Wife (Ballantine Books, 2011), author Paula McLain captures the allure of the Lost Generation of expatriates in Paris through her surprisingly sympathetic depiction of the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. When they met, she was a 28-year-old Midwestern spinster, he a charismatic 21-year-old aspiring writer, just back from his stint as an ambulance driver in World War I. Her practical steadiness and self-effacing support complemented his passionate yearning to experience and create. Yet, it came apart too soon.

DTLV

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