Orbital

Back to Mine (DMC)

The premise of the Back to Mine series of dance mix albums is truly innovative. Under the direction of the country's premier DJ organization, DMC USA, Back to Mine gives featured electronic artists the chance to collect the records — whatever they might be — that they would play for their friends after a night out on the town. You know the inevitable scenario: You've been out clubbing all night and decide to chill for a bit with your buds. Only this time around, your buds include British techno legends Orbital.

Like other featured Back to Mine contributors such as Groove Armada, Fila Brazilia and Everything But the Girl, Orbital's brother team of Phil and Paul Hartnoll refrain from stacking the list full of their own tracks. Instead, they front 19 quirky, moody cuts that you aren't apt to hear in a regular DJ compilation. There are the obligatory down-tempo reggae tracks for late-night relaxing, but there's also obscure material like Lee Perry and the Upsetters' deeply political "Justice to the People" and the Selecter's outstanding trombone-centric, ska-ish "Celebrate the Bullet." There are cuts to make you laugh, like Jethro Tull's plucky folk throwback "Living in the Past" and Gert Wilden and Orchestra's "Schulmaedchen Report" (with its German polka-a-go-go melodies and brash classical instrumentation, the latter was the theme for a '70s German soft-core-porn TV series). And there are tracks to make you dance, should you feel the impulse, such as the rare dub-flavored J. Saul Kane remix of Eon's early techno anthem "Spice," as well as recent experimental electronic material from Plaid ("New Bass Hippo") and one previously unreleased Orbital track ("Ska'd for Life").

While the brothers Hartnoll, known for their blistering live techno sets, illustrate with abrupt song changes that they can't DJ to save their lives, their version of Back to Mine ranks up there with the best dance and electronic music compilations in recent memory.

 
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