Record Review - 3 October 23 2002

Too distracted by label and Rae & Christian co-production duties to concentrate on his own work, Grand (c)entral Re(c)ords label head Mark Rae has finally emerged with his solo debut, Rae Road. Having helped introduce the world to such breakbeat-driven future soul artists as AIM, Only Child and Riton, Rae now concentrates on introducing himself. The result is, unsurprisingly, a looser sidestep away from the output of Rae & Christian.

Rae Road should placate those who thought the music on Rae & Christian’s Sleepwalking lived up to the album’s title. Back in the day, the Manchester native looked to acid jazz and hip-hop more than acid house, and Rae Road exhibits those and other cultural preferences.

With the help of vocalists Veba and Joseph Cotton and various session musicians, Rae offers up a record-crate’s worth of piano- tinkling R&B pop, twitching two-step ragga toasting and jazzy rare groove, all packed tight into a rattling trunk of funk. This is head- bobbin’, free-rollin’ music for low-ridin’ to the spot. But it’s more concerned with the journey than the destination, offering brief spliff- worthy dips into Mr. Scruff-like territory and crisp, flowing fields of airy Lemon.Jelly/ Bonobo downbeat.

Considering his history as a record store and label owner, it’s not surprising that Rae’s output so well suits the general hip-hop interpretation showcased on Grand (c)entral and at his own DJ gigs. For those who enjoy maxin’ in a deep velvet booth to a cut-n-paste clip, Rae’s Road is a smooth, winding one.

Mark Rae spins at Halo Tues., Oct. 29.??