Junkie XL

Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin

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On his first album since striking worldwide gold with a remix of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation," Junkie XL gathers a clever group of collaborators and celebrates the "anything goes" spirit of the digital age. Before you go thinking that Radio JXL is another flashy exercise in excess like the Elvis single, check the excellent "Tennis," a laid-back and loose groover that shows tasteful restraint. Unlike the glittery Funkstar de Luxe -- who started the trend of remixing the dead with multiple Bob Marley mixes -- Junkie XL has vision and ideas that go well past cheeky rebirths. One of the best is having the snarl of former Republica vocalist Saffron on three tracks. Her cool and cocky style sits well on top of Junkie's cinematic and driving music, and a full-length from the two would be more than welcome. Elsewhere a lost Peter Tosh track gets respectfully housed, Dave Gahan, Gary Numan, and Grant Nicholas from Feeder deliver emotive epics, and former Specials-man Terry Hall goes completely boisterous and bonkers on a bouncy and infectious rave-up. The Chuck D and Solomon Burke appearances are disappointingly moderate, but a second disc of spacious and chilled beats that flows extremely well makes up for it. You don't have to stop there if you follow Junkie's plan. The liner notes point to a website he's constructed around the album with two more discs to download and a 24-hour radio station that streams alternate mixes and unreleased Radio JXL tracks day and night. The only quibble is that sticking the Elvis cut on the American version is a tacky record company move that messes up the flow of the album a bit while sacrificing some rather good collaborations with Infusion. Still, it's an exciting album in both execution and concept with much more substance than expected.

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