Rarewerks rendezvous featuring Jaxx and Slim

When a compilation arrives at one’s door, the question must be asked: is it a cash run or a legitimate attempt at an enjoyable, cohesive whole? True, the compilation doesn’t necessarily have to be cohesive; not only is achieving flow from disparate artists a Herculean task, but a scattershot collection of great songs is no less valuable. In any event, the comp has to have something, and does Rarewerks stand up to the test?

Almost. The cohesion thing is out the window, since there isn’t a noticeable flow here, unless you think all electronic music sounds the same, which would label you a novice and you would be advised not to start here on your quest for electronic soundhunting. So we’re left with hopefully a collection of strong songs that stand on their own, and since Astralwerks has a stellar lineup of artists who are contributing unreleased tracks and B-sides, the chances are good. Unfortunately, the word ‘remix’ rears its ugly head for six of the disc’s eleven tracks, meaning we’re left with five truly original works.

Fatboy Slim’s ‘How Can You Hear Us?’ gets us off to a promising start. In fact, Slim’s latest album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars, could have used more of this, as I would say this track, recorded (unsurprisingly) during the You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby sessions, is just as good as the best material on the new record. It has a strong hook and is not afraid to use it. Other material just floats by, though. Groove Armada and Air’s trademark chill sounds are recognizable, but not used to particularly memorable effect. Cassius sounds as funky as ever, but doesn’t do much to justify their eight-minute remix of ‘Foxxy.’ Basement Jaxx finds room to shine, however, with a brilliantly two-faced remix of ‘Bingo Bango’ that is both tranquilized when compared to the original and quietly aggressive. In the end, Rarewerks is for the die-hards only. A nice appetizer to hold one over until the upcoming full albums, but I’ll wait for the main course. -Michael Delano