Secret Art of Science
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Audio CD, July 17, 2001
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Secret Art of Science
Perhaps America's most important drum & bass figurehead, London transplant DJ DB has put together his most accomplished, all-encompassing, and engaging mix yet. Tripping in the lighter shades of darkness and often allowing glorious sunlight to saturate some otherwise dark and heavy beats, DB has liberally sprinkled some jazz and funk into the heart of cuts from the likes of Jonny L, Roni Size, and LTJ Bukem. The movement in this 17-track compilation is absolutely seamless; singling out individual tracks does disservice to such a finely tuned mix. However, keen ears will enjoy Jonny L and Roni Size's "This Time," Photek's spacey remix of the mighty L's classic "Two of Us," Klute's airy, Gary Numan-esque breakbeat "Chicks," and the crown jewel, E-Z Rollers' jazzed-up "Retro (G.O.D.) Remix." While consciously avoiding dark hardcore and keeping matters firmly in the sun, The Secret Art is a welcome mix of some great tunes at a time when the drum & bass genre is back in the dance music underground. --Steffan Chirazi
Top customer reviews
eargasmic. a perfect mix CD.
The tracks range from really good to absolutely amazing. The mixing is superb, the flow from track to track profound, and the track selection itself just downright perfect. Buy this album, you won't regret it. Also buy some super nice speakers so that it will do this album justice!
Anyways. What all this means is that pretty much every drum and bass mix released during this time of dancefloor suckiness sounds the same -- a bunch of unimaginative records mostly composed of linear two-step rhythms, filtered-to-death basslines, and 'scary' sounds. Which makes this latest DB release such a treasure to own and listen to. Though I don't really agree with the comments in the liner notes about 'putting the music back' into drum and bass by bringing more melody and 'emotion' (a vast majority of the best jungle tunes had little melody, or even 'soul' as most people know it), the tunes here are still way better than any of the current dubplates hurting the dancefloors.
Though it easily falls into the 'atmospheric' category, one should know that it's not just another collection of the pseudo-intelligent, sissy coffee-table jungle that Bukem and friends have been churning out as of late (though it's safe to say that their contributions to this mix aren't nearly as formulaic as their newest stuff; Bukem's own 'Music' is beautiful and a certified classic). Nope, the drums here are mixed into the forefront, distinct and emotive. The linear two-step patterns are well balanced by more intricate breakbeat programming from the likes of Photek and Pieter K (who's looking to be the next big auteur-producer on the scene). You can tell DB really thought out the track sequencing, because though each track stands alone as a marvel of craftsmanship, the way they blend into each other just sounds so right. He's not just matching beats, he's playing with moods, colors. Just listen to the mix between the very first two tracks to see what I'm talking about.
Highlights here would be Blame's jazzy (but different!), rolling "Overhead Projections", both of Pieter K's tracks, Omni Trio's aching "Secret Life", Bukem's anthem, and Klute's "Chicks". Unlike Richard "progressive-house" Diaz, I find "Chicks" a flawlessly constructed minimal piece, hypnotic and understated. Good stuff. All in all, I would suggest you forgive the awkward title and BUY this mix if you're sick of boring noise masquerading as jungle. Peace.
Big names Photek and LTJ Bukem ("Music" still sounding fresh after 8 years) sit snug next to small records - major points just for daring to drop Nautilus's quaint guitar stroll "Small Adventures." There's some sag in the paunch (Klut's blah "Chicks") but ultimately the concept overcomes those quibbles. After all, it's not often you'll find drum and bass your hyper-caffinated mom would adore, right? Grade: 4.5 stars
On the "Secret Art of Science", DJ DB avoids the stranglehold that dark, nasty, mechanical beats have had on drum & bass in recent years. Instead he offers lush melodies and real breaks in a seamless mix that hasn't left my cd player since the day I bought it.
I love drum & bass/jungle in all its forms but there's only so much darkness a man can take. Props to DJ DB for letting the light in!