Record Review - 2 November 25 2000
British DJ/producers Jonathan More and Matt Black weren't on hand to carve when pop first sat down to start eating itself, but they have since been among the most assiduous and inspired servers. They helped change the tastes of a generation with their freestyle, beat-crazy, sample-delic cut-ups under the Coldcut banner and founded the Ninja Tune label to promote likeminded masters. Xen Cuts celebrates NT's 10th anniversary with a three-disc, three-course serving of the house B-boy bouillabaisse.
The first disc features tunes concocted around the Ninja posse's staple ingredient, hip-hop. The Herbaliser's free-flowing collaboration with West Coast rap crew Latryx, "8pt Agenda," and DJ Vadim and Sarah Jones' scourging of phallo-centric hip-hop culture on "Your Revolution" are the kinds of joints that Stateside heads should know better. The second disc soothes the palate with treats from the chill-well side of the label's aesthetic as Amon Tobin, Funki Porcini and others blend Brazilian and Latin music with jazz and hi-fi era influences till smooth. The third disc should sate dedicated Ninja consumers as the producers scour the pantry for rare, unreleased, remixed and live tracks from poet Saul Williams, DJ Food and the Cinematic Orchestra, among others.
Neither a definitive best-of nor a comprehensive history, Xen Cuts is probably a bad vantage point for a long view on the label, but it serves up a generous smorgasbord of the label's trademark beats and pieces, infused with its inimitable wit, flair and funk. Tasty and filling.