Dave Clarke

Devil's Advocate

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Dave Clarke's vision of hardcore for the headstrong, as practiced on his chart-bound series of mid-'90s Red singles, appeared to have little in common with the climate of mainstream dance in 2003 (electroclash and DJ Hell notwithstanding). A notoriously independent artist, he has never varied his style according to the whims of the marketplace, though his tastes do frequently overlap with the sound of the moment, as happened during 1994-1995 with the Red series and a few years later with his two Electro Boogie mix albums for K7. More so than the brilliant Archive One, this record forsakes the trailblazing Dave Clarke of old with a different figure, one who simply places the Clarke imprimatur on a host of styles he's been championing for years. So, there's a British hardcore track, a Chicago track (featuring no less than Farley Jackmaster Funk on keys and DJ Rush on vocals), a Detroit track (one that's strikingly similar to Carl Craig's "Food and Art"), even a minimalist booty track named "Just Ride" that features co-production from DJ Godfather. Clarke also shows himself an able hip-hop producer, collaborating with Mr. Lif on a track that replaces the usual gangster trademark -- sampled gunshots -- with what sounds like a full arsenal of shoulder-fired missiles and grenade launchers. Another good idea was recruiting Chicks on Speed for two features, the first of which attempts to rejigger Bauhaus' "She's in Parties" into a post-millennial dance smash that ends up mostly successful. Despite the range of features, Devil's Advocate is a very focused record; Clarke is a master of percussion programming, and though these productions wouldn't sound out of their time in 1992, they also reveal a modernist flair. It's very much a DJ's producer record, one with all manner of tracks that could slot perfectly into a set at different times. Unfortunately, that doesn't make it an excellent production record.

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