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Various Artists:
Xen Cuts

Ninja Tune

The deadly masterminds at the Ninja Tune label have released their Xen Cuts collection, a three CD, 6xLP box set covering the ten-year history of the label. Instead of re-releasing a predictable back catalogue of greatest hits, they produced a collection of mostly exclusive tracks to represent their eclectic array of artists. This album excels beyond the usually lousy attempts of other labels and artists at documenting their histories. The album opens with a short but carefully pieced together mix of various tracks and spoken word dialogue much in the style of their 'Solid Steel' radio show. The compilation proceeds into a healthy dose of abstract hip hop with tracks by the likes of Big Dada Sound, T Love, The Herbaliser w/Latyrx, Amon Tobin w/ Roots Manuva and a great version of DJ Vadim's 'Your Revolution' featuring Sarah Jones.

Like one of your favorite mix tapes, the compilation smoothly switches the mood down a bit with the Jimpster remix of Mixmaster Morris's 'Nepalese Bliss' and drops the laid back armchair funk of Kid Koala, Coldcut and Up, Bustle & Out. 'Blue Flames' by Quannum MC's foreshadows the distribution of the Quannum label in early 2001 and reignites the albums hip hop vibe with a track by The Infesticons, and then flips you back to a more down tempo feel with Luke Vibert and Fink. From here the labels' work really starts to shine with selections of abstract jazz tinged work by both Neptune and Loka, moody string arrangements by Clifford Gilbertos and a wonderful track by Chris Bowden featuring the sultry vocal talents of Lisa Millett. The album becomes shadier with the help of Animals on Wheels, DJ Food's 'The Ageing Young Rebel' and tracks by Flanger, Funki Porcini, Arc and Max and Harvey. The remaining section of the compilation, entitled 'Missed, Flipped, and Skipped,' contains odd rarities and looked-over songs, a few of which are truly the high points on the lbum. It begins with Saul Williams spirited 'Twice The First Time' and contains Kid Koala's 'Drunk Trumpet' in which he scratches out a Big Band-Burlesque-styled melody and proves his acclaimed turntable skills. The remainder of this section shows that downtempo 'Ninja Tune' sound with tracks by DJ Vadim, Hexstatic, Roots Manuva, The Cinematic Orchestra and the always complicated sound of Squarepusher and his deconstructed remix of East Flatbush Project 'Tried By 12'.

--Justin Hardison
A.K.A. man of la macho

Track Listing:

  1. Seinski's Intro--The Xen To One Ratio
  2. Big Dada Sound--Showtime
  3. Dynamic Syncopation feat. Mass Influence--2 Tha Left
  4. T Love--QMS
  5. The Herbaliser feat. Latyrx--8pt Agenda
  6. Mr. Scruff--Ug
  7. Neotropic feat. Shorti aka Resonance--Memories
  8. Cabbageboy--Rhythm and Blues Angus Steakhouse
  9. Amon Tobin--Saboteur (Roots Manuva version)
  10. DJ Vadim feat. Sarah Jones--Your Revolution
  11. The Irresistible Force--Nepalese Bliss (Jimpster Mix)
  12. Kid Koala--Emperor's Main Course
  13. Coldcut--Give It Up
  14. Up, Bustle and Out--Hip Hop Barrio
  15. Quannum MCs--Blue Flames
  16. The Infesticons--Night Night Theme
  17. Luke Vibert--I Hear The Drummer
  18. Fink feat. Frank Chickens--Ninjah (We Are Ninja)
  19. Flexus Intro(Spotters Delight)--The Joy Of X
  20. Clifford Gilberto--The 10th Victim
  21. Neptune--Soul Pride
  22. Up, Bustle and Out--Los Locos Cubanos (Snowboy Mix)
  23. Amon Tobin--Down And To The Left
  24. Loka--My Life's In These Bottles
  25. Chris Bowden--Original Sins
  26. Clifford Gilberto--Restless
  27. Animals On Wheels--Build A Church With Your Fear
  28. DJ Food feat. Ken Nordine--The Ageing Young Rebel (Gentle Cruety)
  29. Flanger--Quicksilver Loom
  30. Funki Porcini--Big Sea
  31. Arc--Arcane
  32. Max and Harvey- Big Amoeba Sound
  33. Saul Williams--Twice The First Time
  34. Coldcut--More Beats And Pieces (John Mcentire Mix)
  35. Funki Porcini--Dubble (Organ Swell)
  36. Happy Campters--No Mind
  37. DJ Food--Peace pt. 1
  38. Mr scruff--Happy Band
  39. Kid Koala--Drunk Trumpet (Live At The Metro, Chicago)
  40. DJ Vadim--Non Lateral Hypothesis
  41. Hexstatic--Ninja Tune (The Process Mix)
  42. Roots Manuva--Movements (Live At Inside Tracks)
  43. East Flatbush Project--Tried By 12 (Squarepusher Mix)
  44. Sukia VS. DJ Food--Feel'n You And Me
  45. The Cinematic Orchestra--Channel 1 Suite (Four Tet Remix)
  46. Amon Tobin f. Chris Morris--Bad Sex


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