Essential Asian Flavas :: The Future Cutz
[outcaste]   review from derek  

The whole series concept is, at times, a rather ludicrous undertaking. In the movie industry, we saw the Matrix run flounder when it attempted to outlive the complete brilliance of the first; some things are total in themselves. Don't misunderstand: The Lord of the Rings is a saving grace to our mythological appetite, showing the sustainability of a good-idea-turned-good. Music comps often wander the same dangerous thread. Nonesuch's Explorer Series is a baffling 96-disc international voyage meant for picking and choosing; but when a label takes itself too seriously (I'm thinking Buddha Bar baby), we find the unfortunate effects of capitalizing on the lowest common denominator.

Not that Outcaste takes itself too seriously, and that's a good thing. Their third installment of Essential Asian Flavas (throwing off the number game of 1 & 2 in lieu of The Future Cutz) continues the upbeat, at times lighthearted, others deadpan serious volumes of DJs and producers working in the sonic South Asian diaspora into electronic circumstances. The result, as with the first two installments, is a further mixed bag. The record's strength is its weakness: the first two leant heavily on Bhangra and quirky digital rhythms, while Future Cutz is the most widely arrayed. While giving you a larger selection this proves difficult to follow - sort of like a label sampler when the label experiments in death metal, opera and nu-jazz. OK, Cutz may not be that varied, but the continuity factor plays huge.

Credit Outcaste, however, for not choosing to cash in on the Bhangra cow. Then again, I write from New York, where the sound has flipped hip-hop producers on their heels, while in London (the label's home) the genre is better laced into the cultural fabric. Bhangra does appear, kicking off the comp on Craig David's rather tasteful mix of "Rise and Fall," as well as a collaboration between Glasgow's Tigerstyle and New York's Bikram Singh on the stomping "Taakre." New York ironically represents with the two strongest cutz, as DJ/producer Navdeep's "My Technique" adds his flavorful tabla skills into a throbbing hip-hop beat, scratches and vocal snippets.

As with all the Flavas, chapter three declines as the hour dries up. The strongest cutz appear first, while the latter half fall into a rather boring subterfuge of colorless rhythms spliced with the "exotic" instrumentation of sitars, drum 'n bass and Punjabi vocals. So while Al-Pha-X's superbly backbeat "A Punjabi Prelude" and White O's "Asian Girl," a roving throwback to trip-hop, are dependable B-cuts, we simply did not need yet another mix of Badmarsh and Shri's "Signs," nor any more Eastenders' monotonously tedious drum 'n bass (this time credited as a Kabuki remix). I suppose subtitling a record Future Cutz and Cutz Without a Present is too much to ask, but would have been much more accurate nonetheless.

ethnotechno rating: 2 out of 5
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  1. Craig David :: Rise and Fall (Rishi Rich Desi Kulcha Remix feat. Juggy D) (pick)
  2. Rishi Rich :: Nahin Tere Jeha Hor Disda
  3. Tigerstyle featuring Bikram Singh :: Taakre (pick)
  4. Navdeep :: My Technique (pick)
  5. Jasmon Dimdanana (Green Empathy Remix)
  6. Al-pha-X :: Punjabi Prelude (pick)
  7. White O :: Asian Girl
  8. Jon Kennedy :: East Is East
  9. Eastenders :: Misterio (Kabuki Remix)
  10. Badmarsh & Shri :: Signs (Calibre Remix)
  11. Dr Zeus featuring Master Rakesh :: Kangna (Acoustic Mix)
  12. Mr Reds :: Mr Reds
  13. At home Project :: All in My Mind
  14. Digital Jockey :: Ach, waere ich ein Zug, so fuehre ich in dein Herz!