Various Artists

Electronic Music for Heroes, Vol. 2

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A new leader in the rather defensively named genre of "intelligent dance music," Hydrogen Dukebox made its name with 2001's Electronic Music for Heroes. The 2003 follow-up, the label's 100th release, proffers more of the same: a seductive blend of ambient pop atmospherics and the more melodic side of the U.K. dance underground. Familiar names include the KLF's Jimi Cauty, doing a wriggly, dark-toned remix of the Black Dog's "Invisible Things" that's heavy on his characteristic use of found sound and film dialogue, James Hardway (aka David Harrow), with an uncharacteristic, downright poppy mix of his "Speak Softly," and A1 People's old-school electro-dance "Detroit Style," a nostalgic return to the roots of acid house. The album's highlights are Norken's "East," which constructs a slinky, danceable groove out of a less than promising collision of samples, and the Lithium Project's "Illumination," which recalls the promise of early-'90s dance-pop innovators like Soul II Soul and the more straightforward, dance-oriented side of the Orb.

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