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Solar Life Raft
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: MP3 Music
BBC Review of Solar Life Raft

"Never predictable, full of surprises, and engaging from start to close."

Louis Pattison 2009-10-22

On paper, the mixes made by the likes of internationally-minded DJs like Jace `DJ /Rupture' Clayton and fellow Brooklynite Matt Shadetek look like they should be a jarring listen, full of tempo confusion and stark stylistic shifts.

But much like the pairs' earlier offerings -Rupture's game-changing 2001 CD mix Gold Teeth Thief or Team Shadetek's grime/dancehall/crunk hybrids - this new collaborative effort covers a lot of ground with ingenuity.

There's no muddled beat-matching or lazy mash-ups here: Solar Life Raft succeeds in its global scope because Rupture and Shadetek have a talent for melting borders, blending disparate sounds together with a subtle flourish that elevates their mixes above petty border concerns.

Things commence on a dub foot, with the double-whammy of Timeblind's Space Cadet and Matt Shadetek's own For the Souls, slow-skanking dubstep pitted with echoed-out horns. Following is For the Souls, a Shadetek-produced cut of world-weary reggae from Brooklyn vocalist Jahdan Blakkamore. But then, an instrumental edit of Gang Gang Dance's quasi-Arabic dance tune Bebey takes a left turn through a heaving bazaar, and a 30-second snippet of Finnish folk collective Paavoharju seems placed just so you can catch your breath before the bass drops again.

Plot all these maneuvers on a map and it looks bewildering, but it's really not; once your ears accumulate, it's quickly clear that trainspotting the provenance of the sounds is less important that simply locking into the duo's shared mindset.

If there is a bedrock here, it's dub - dub, but more specifically the way that dub and other Afro-Caribbean sounds have slowly leaked into all manner of global urban musics. What's particularly appealing, though, is the way Solar Life Raft happily is happy to lose its thread for strange and appealing diversions: take Nico Muhly's Mothertongue Pt 1, in which a female choir chants wordlessly, voices babbling like a stream, or More Pets, which finds French-Norwegian poet Caroline Bergvall talking cats, canaries and turtles over slow-building minimal rhythms.

It's a mix that's never predictable, full of surprises, and engaging from start to close.
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