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A State of Perfect Zen


Review: Jake May

I'M blissed out, sitting calm and relaxed, experiencing what can be only described as pure euphoria. "What can be the cause of such unearthly pleasure?" you ask. Drugs? Transcendental meditation? The love of a good woman? Not a chance, because the kind people at Ninja Tunes have done away with the need for such fripperies, with the release of not one, not two, but three retrospective compilations collecting together the cream of their back catalogue, a glorious ménage of the finest cuts, breaks and beats from their illustrious stable.

First off the bat comes the Zen TV DVD. Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. Now at last the two come together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experiment, innovation, humour and weirdness.
At twice the capacity of a normal DVD, the Zen TV DVD contains 35 promo videos from all your favourite Ninja Tune artists, a 15-minute audiovisual mix and (if that wasn't enough) a 30-minute audio mix from Hexstatic. The Ninja Tunes ethos has always been that video is not merely an unrelated promo item to sell a single but should be intimately related to the sounds it represents, and this DVD holds true to those principles. With works from established directors like Alexander Rutterford and Sam Arthur as well as newcomers such as Conkerko and Fizzy Eye, you're presented with a delectable smorgasbord of goodies upon which to gorge your senses.

Next we have the double Zen CD, incredibly the first greatest hits compilation from Ninja, but most certainly worth the wait. Many of the tracks have been lovingly remastered to bring the sonics up to a new-millennium standard. Featuring 32 massive tunes from industry stalwarts such as DJ Food, Mr Scruff, Cold Cut and Cinematic Orchestra, it is a succession of blinding tunes showcasing the breath of imagination, the humour and sheer ear for good music that's gone into the label over the last twelve years.

Last but in no way least, is the blistering Zen RMX, a mash-up of twenty remixes from the likes of Cornelius, Fourtet, Manitoba, Luke Vibert, and DJ Food. If anyone can claim not to have had their feet a-tapping all the way through this extravaganza, it's probably because they've had them amputated. Many of the tracks on this double CD compilation are virtually impossible to get hold of so to have them all lovingly collected together should at the very least earn Ninja Tunes a blessing from Buddha.

If you purport to be a Ninja Tunes fan then not owning these gems can only result in a non-recuperable dent to your credibility. If you've never heard of Ninja Tunes (?!) then pick these up, play on repeat and realize exactly why up until this moment your life has always seemed empty and meaningless - Zen enlightenment!

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