John Digweed

Stark Raving Mad

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Stark Raving Mad, the soundtrack to an American film ("imagine, if you can, Trainspotting meets Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels!"), is a two-disc mix album allowing resident superstar DJ John Digweed a chance to air many of his own Bedrock-affiliated tracks -- and boost the profile of his studio boffin, Nick Muir (who co-produces all of Digweed's tracks). Though he's been one of trance's main figureheads for half a decade, Digweed's been less willing to stick with the style on a constant basis, and the tracks here reflect that. Unlike Oakenfold and Van Dyk, he's willing to push things forward slightly, with more stylistic detours and fewer concessions to fan-friendly effects and breakdowns. Early on the second disc, Digweed even approaches hard house with his spinning of "White Island" by Luke Fair, though the next track, his own "Beautiful Strange," takes the mix back into familiar territory. Digweed and Muir do accomplish much together; their tracks have the detailed, sonically sculpted perfection that's become de rigeur for trance, but also a unique sound that has nothing to do with the trance blueprint. And even though most of their productions are brief interstitial tracks, they claim two of the highlights, "Mondrian" and "Slingshot." "Kritical" by Luke Fair is a nice dub-shattered breakbeat tune, while the closer ("A Better Place" by DJ Tasmin & Monk) is unabashedly retro, heisting LTJ Bukem's blueprint for Good Looking drum'n'bass from circa 1992. The best track, hands down, is "Walking on Fire" by Evolution, the opener on the second disc, a fine piece of female-fronted techno-pop, though firmly in the mold of same. Even though this mix smacks of a Bedrock clearing house, it's refreshing to hear a few change-ups.

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