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Junkie XL - A Broadcast From The Computer Hell Cabin


Review: Jack Foley

THERE are those among you who may think that Junkie XL - aka Dutch producer Tom Holkenborg - is a relative newcomer to the big beat/dance theme, having been catapulted into the limelight last Summer with the release of A Little Less Conversation.

Yet Tom has been around for some time, and, aside from contributing to the soundtrack of several X-Box games, and to the Blade soundtrack, he has been responsible for a couple of other albums, as well as the classic singles, Saturday Teenage Kicks and Zero to Nine.

His latest album, A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin, seems perfectly poised to cash in on the success of his Elvis revival, however, and who can forgive him for grasping the opportunity.

Yet anyone anticipating more of the same (particularly in light of his collaboration with Solomon Burke, for current single Catch Up To My Step), may be a little disappointed.

A Broadcast From... represents a fusion of many different dance styles and, upon first listen, feels a little all over the place, given what listeners may be expecting.

But give it a chance, or several listens, and this is actually a very good dance album, featuring some very good collaborations.

Comprised of two CDs, the album is split into two sections - one which reflects daytime radio and one that reflects nighttime broadcasts.

Hence, CD2 is mostly about late-night clubbing style, and features the sort of extended dance grooves you are likely to hear on radio stations such as Kiss and Capital on Friday and Saturday nights. The beats seem interminable and the sound merges into one, after a while, so that it's quite a surprise when the album ends.

The real quality on the album lies in the first CD (which is also available by itself), during which Tom gets to showcase his range. Whether this alienates listeners by not really being primed at any one genre remains to be seen, but A Broadcast From... is a busy enough album to be able to offer something to suit all tastes.

Of the highlights, his sweaty, big beat single, Catch Up To My Step, remains one of the best examples of what Junkie XL does best, while his collaboration with Gary Numan, for Angels, is also very good - Numan's vocals, in particular, lending it a memorablly haunting quality to the techno-driven beat (which is remixed on CD2).

Saffron, from Republica, features less strongly on a couple of the weaker tracks, but Public Enemy's brings plenty of attitude to the hip-hop/big beat crossover track, Access to the Excess, while former Specials frontman, Terry Hall, contributes to the reggae-inspired Never Alone - which is a little hit and miss.

Chillout even gets a look in, during quieter moments such as Logos, which uses vocoders to reasonable effect, and the enchanting, ambient Rivers, featuring Harland.

In fact, the first CD is brought to a magnificent close, with both the hopelessly chilled out Aqua Man, featuring Infusion (which wouldn't sound out of place on a DJ Shadow album), and the quite magnificent Clouds, featuring Feeder's Grant Nicholas - which extensively samples the verse from Broken, a B-side to Feeder's Just The Way I'm Feeling single.

The beat on this track, coupled with Nicholas' dreamy vocals, makes the spine tingle and it is during these moments that Junkie XL comes into his own. Ironically, it leaves you pining for more, but then the album fades.

A mixed bag, then, but notable for refusing to rest on its laurels and for delivering something to suit all moods. Jump on the JXL sound wave now, while it's still worth riding.

 

Track listing:
1. Intro 3PM
2. Crusher feat. Saffron
3. Don't Wake Up Policeman feat. Peter Tosh
4. Spirits feat. Saffron
5. Angels feat. Gary Numan
6. Between These Walls feat. Anouk
7. Access To The Excess feat. Chuck D.
8. Catch Up To My Step feat. Solomon Burke
9. Never Alone feat. Terry Hall
10. Logos feat. Phill Mills
11. Configuring Audio System
12. Nightmares feat. Infusion
13. Beauty Never Fades feat. Saffron
14. Rivers feat. Shelley Harland
15. Aqua Man feat. Infusion
16. Clouds feat. Grant Nicholas
17. JXL Radio Technical Support
18. Reload feat. Dave Gahan
19. Perfect Blue Sky feat. Robert Smith
20. Tennis (UK Bonus Track)

Disc: 2
1. Intro 3AM
2. Chilled
3. Dubzilla
4. Casio
5. Angels (12" Cut)
6. Breezer (feat. Sasha)
7. Nudge (We're Gonna Rock Now)
8. Red
9. Beauty Never Fades (12" Cut)
10. Cosmic Cure
11. Rehsurc

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