?The Remixes: 2002-2005??
Berlin-based collective Jazzanova — a cadre of disc jockeys and disc junkies — first made a name being attached to other people's names. Jazzanova's six-headed, 12-armed hydra was first known as DJ pairs centered around East Berlin club Delicious Doughnuts, where the soundsystem's bass deficiencies led to a reliance on glossy melodic hooks. Then, after filtering jazz through hip-hop and vice versa, Jazzanova turned into purveyors of Afro-Latin beats as funky as any Nuyorican borough. These tendencies were first captured on the group's 2000 release The Remixes: 1997-2000, and now five out of Jazzanova's six "proper" full-length releases are collections of remixes or primarily other people's tracks.
Releasing an abundance of remix collections might seem short-sighted and crassly commercial were it done by some generic knob twiddler. The Remixes: 2002-2005, however, stands as a case study in Jazzanova's evolving clarity. Jazzanova's rarefied reconfiguration technique keeps a track's spiritual purity even while tweaking its tonality. For example, the remix of Calexico's "Black Heart" makes what perspired respire. Whether putting forth ominous and psychedelicate shuffles (Calexico, Free Design), reworks of percolating deep house (Shaun Escoffery), or shimmering nu_jazz disco strut (Nuspirit Helsinki, Masters at Work featuring Roy Ayers), Jazzanova's strength is in weaving such a meticulously embroidered mesh, you take each remix for a collaborative original. That is why so many artists have furthered their names by attaching to Jazzanova's, one associated with open floor plans of influence.
Jazzanova DJs spin at Django Wed., Jan. 18, 10 p.m. Call for price. 495 Peachtree St. 404-347-8648. www.djangoatlanta.com.
We Are Scientists
?With Love and Squalor??
It has been nearly five years since the release of the Strokes' Is This It, and almost four years since the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers" smashed into nightclubs around the world, so the dance-rock phenomenon is hardly a fad. It has become something of a formula, however, and many new bands stick to the same 4/4 drum beats and staccato guitar lines as those early, influential records.
The Brooklyn trio We Are Scientists doesn't reinvent the wheel, but its debut album, With Love and Squalor, has its charms. "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," with its gushing chorus — "My body is your body/I won't tell anybody/If you want to use my body/Go for it, yeah," sings lead vocalist Keith Murray — is a memorably tuneful song. "It's A Hit," meanwhile, emphasizes the band's unique knack for unusual time signatures, as Michael Tapper produces a drum beat that seems to float backward. On "This Scene Is Dead" and "The Great Escape," the trio pummel along with steady purpose, with Murray's buzzsaw guitar taking lead.
About half the 12 numbers on With Love and Squalor aren't as clearly defined (which is a polite way of saying that they sound like filler cuts). But, hey, six great, radio-ready songs is more than most bands yield on a single disc, and We Are Scientists deliver them all with a winning enthusiasm.
?The Complete Verve Remixed??
As with nearly everything involving jazz and young people, the three volumes of the Verve Remixed series — in which hip international beatmakers are invited to have their way with material from the jazz giant's vault — invite suspicion: Is this a respectful continuation of the old-timers' creative mojo or a cynical catalog repackaging for Urban Outfitters shoppers? But when there are grooves as intermittently appealing as the ones compiled here, who cares? This four-CD boxed set features the three original Remixed discs plus another of previously unreleased cuts and music videos. The chances of your listening to the box all the way through increase dramatically if you work at Urban Outfitters, of course; only people who unlock fitting-room doors 300 times a day need this much exotic percussion in their lives. But spin the CDs at random and pleasant surprises keep presenting themselves: Rae & Christian funking up Dinah Washington with a cowbell; Masters at Work extending Nina Simone's "See-Line Woman" into 10 minutes of space-flute chaos; Brazilian Girls finding the party girl inside Blossom Dearie. Of the new stuff, savor the poppin' remix of Walter Wanderley's "Popcorn" by M.I.A.'s DJ Diplo. It's salty, trashy fun — no more, no less.