Record Review - 4 July 03 2002

The remix album is the ultimate affirmation of both the lover's devotion (one track over and over again) and the skeptic's derision. After all, is there any better backing for the contention that all [insert genre of choice here] sounds alike than an entire CD consisting of different versions of the same song? But a good remix album also can operate like a regular album, provided the treatments are varied enough. ?

Not that 360º Remixes — which reworks Push Button Objects' recent collaboration with Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Mr. Lif and DJ Craze — is notably eclectic. But PBO's tick-tocking beat, unadorned, almost acoustic-sounding guitar, and hollow-toned scratches are plenty juicy to begin with. And aside from the Herbaliser's lounge-isms, the new mixes either equal or improve upon the original. DJ Spinna offers simple, effective goth-funk — wispy violins, muffled Benedictine monk chants — while Kut Masta Kurt deconstructs blaxploitation soundtrack cliches, cutting a lowdown funk guitar and chase-scene strings in and out of the beat. And El-P's mix is as deep gray and dystopian as the lyrics themselves: "The new era brings terror/You wish the quality of life was better/Peep the dilemma," raps Mr. Lif. ?

There's no such dilemma on Tosca's Different Tastes of Honey, featuring 13 reworkings of "Honey," from 1999's Suzuki. The song's only lyric is "I want my honey." And if you think a half-dozen repetitions of three verses and choruses is trying, wait till you hear one line echoing across 75 minutes. (If you want to go macro, there's also the self-explanatory new Suzuki in Dub.) But where "360º" grounds the PBO mixes, on Different Tastes of Honey, each track seems to emanate not from the original but from the track preceding it. ?

Markus Kienzi stays close to Tosca's blueprint, but the rest wander — from Biggabush's chunky, clunky funk (think: a sound clash between '70s and '80s Herbie Hancock), to the relaxed yet pumping house of Faze Action and Organic Audio, to the roots-reggae feel of the second of two Supatone dubs. Perfect for that evening of tantric lovemaking you've been putting off. ?