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Xen Cuts

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Genre: Compilation / Artist: Various Artists / Box set / Audio CD released 2000-01-01 at Ninja Tune

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      11.02.2001 00:29
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      "Xen Cuts" is a diverse compilation, released near the end of 2000 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ninjatune record label. For those of us who are unaware, a brief history...(I will try to speak plain English) Ninjatune is generically a dance label, founded in 1990 as the brainchild of the turntablist/sampling duo Jonathon Moore and Matt Black a.k.a. Coldcut. From its incarnation it has been boldly battering at the barriers of UK dance music with its blend of sampled jazz breaks and live instrumentation. By 2000, this ethos had allowed Ninjatune to become the umbrella for a wide variety of artists including not only Coldcut themselves but also the live jazz/hip-hop outfit The Herbaliser, the dexterous turntablist Kid Koala, various hip-hop artists such as DJ Vadim, Roots Manuva and The Quannum MCs as well as more avante-garde jazzy stuff by the likes of Mr Scruff and Amon Tobin. With all this is mind, you must want to know what you get with this compilation. In reflection of the label itself, "Xen Cuts" contains a variety of styles. This is emphasised by the sheer length of it, probably getting on for three and a half hours. The album starts with a quick one-minute intro by Steinski, splicing together sections from some of the Ninjatune's classic tracks - ideal for trainspotters. There is another similar track later on as well. There is a fair amount of rap stuff served up by the afore-mentioned Quannum MCs (previously on Mo Wax), The Infesticons and Big Dada sound (a subsidiary label in itself). Check out "Your revolution" by DJ Vadium feat. Sarah Jones for a brilliant re-version of Gil-Scott Heron's "The revolution will not be televised" except reverting the attention to dissing chauvinistic male rappers. As well as rap, there are instrumental hip-hop tracks. Coldcut delivers a good beaty, sampladelic track "Give it up", the cheeky Canadian, Kid Koala demonstrates hi
      s affection for odd vocal samples and scratching talents on "The Emperor's New Clothes" and Amon Tobin provides a lovely organ-based Lemon Jelly-esque (see other review) "Down and to the left". There are some very obscure tracks from more experimental artists. We have "The Ageing Young Rebel" by DJ Food where the story of an ageing young rebel is recited over some jazz. This one takes a bit to get used to but I find it quite appealing. Quite a few tracks will leaving you pondering "What was that all about?!" although still suitably entertained! Unfortunately, some tracks do just resort to noise and irregular rhythms. This is good as it shows how eager Ninjatune is to be fresh and interesting but could be a bit testing for some less dedicated listeners. The CD format (and most likely now unavailable limited edition vinyl) contains an extra "Missed, Flipped and Skipped" disc. This features rarer more obscure stuff that was previously released on B-sides or is just hard to come by these days. To be brash, most of these tracks are the weakest on the compilation but highlights are the wonderful 'trumpet-scratching' by Kid Koala on "Drunk Trumpet", the housey "Peace Pt.1" by DJ Food and the intentionally shocking "Bad Sex" by Amon Tobin feat. dark comedian Chris Morris. The beauty of "Xen Cuts" is that it is a showpiece of what Ninjatune has to offer (and there are far more tracks than have been mentioned in this opinion). Ninjatune has previously put out two other compilation albums - "Flexistentialism" and "Funkungfusion" - both of which are well worth having but I believe that "Xen Cuts" is the best for starting out on. Being so varied, it would be impossible for every track to be to an individual's taste. However, it is likely that it would have something to suit the taste of most people and there is so muc
      h there that it is possible to quite happily avoid other tracks. Go and give it a listen. N.B. If none of this review has made any sense then "Xen Cuts" is probably not for you!

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Showtime - Big Dada Sound
      2 2 The Left - Dynamic Syncopation
      3 8pt Agenda - The Herbaliser
      4 No Mind - Happy Campers
      5 Rhythm & Blues Angus Steakhouse - Cabbageboy
      6 Memories - Neotropic
      7 Saboteur - Amon Tobin (Roots Manuva version)
      8 Ug - Mr Scruff
      9 Your Revolution - DJ Vadim (version)
      10 Emperors Main Course - Kid Koala
      11 Give It Up - Coldcut
      12 Hip Hop Barrio - Up, Bustle & Out
      13 I Hear The Drummer - Luke Vibert
      14 Ninjah (We Are Ninja) - Fink feat. Frank Chickens

      Disc #2 Tracklisting
      1 The 10th Victim - Clifford Gilberto
      2 Soul Pride - Cinematic Orchestra & PC
      3 Los Locos Cubanos - Up, Bustle & Out (Snowboy mix)
      4 Down & To The Left - Amon Tobin
      5 My Life In These Bottles - Loka
      6 Original Sin - Chris Bowden
      7 Restless - Clifford Gilberto
      8 Build A Church with Your Fear - Animals On Wheels
      9 Ageing Young Rebel - DJ Food feat. Ken Nordine (remix)
      10 Quicksilver Loom - Flanger
      11 Big Sea - Funki Porcini
      12 Big Amoeba Sound - Max & Harvey
      13 Arcane - Arc
      14 Big Amoeba Sound - Max & Harvey

      Disc #3 Tracklisting
      1 Bad Sex - Chris Morris