Various Artists

Abstract Vibes

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To call these vibes "abstract" is to overstate their sophistication just a bit, at least in retrospect. In fact, all of these grooves are quite easy to grab and hold onto, and more power to them. That's not to say that there's no intellectual substance to this music; on the contrary, it takes a certain amount of perverse intelligence to juxtapose snippets of opera arias over boastful blues singers and chugging, down-tempo rhythms, as Tosca does on "Chocolate Elvis" ("Tosca," get it?), and it requires an equally perverse boldness to take a gorgeous female vocal and scratch it gently to death before segueing into French spoken-word samples and jazz flute (as DJ Cam does on "Dieu Reconnaitra les Siens"). Trip-hop avatar Tricky has a compellingly dark cameo here, recorded before he became a household name, and there is an equally fine performance by the young Fila Brazillia, who would likewise go on to bigger and better things as the decade wore on. This compilation is a highly enjoyable foray into an electronica subgenre that was on the margins when it was released, but would go on to gain considerable momentum.

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