Oakenfold a producer? Well, he may not release much other than mix albums (exceptions being the Swordfish soundtrack and scattered singles), but Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osborne once formed one of the most highly touted remixing teams in dance music -- though Perfecto is now known to British teenagers strictly as a label, not a sound aesthetic. So when a man who's not only the biggest DJ on earth but the producer of one of the greatest LPs of the '90s (Happy Mondays' Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches) finally decides to turn in a full production LP, notice must be paid. Unfortunately, Oakenfold isn't much of a pioneer any more, and though it's clear his ear for a solid production hasn't deserted him, Bunkka sees him following the trends instead of pushing them. With a new partner, Andy Gray, Oakenfold shows often that he has the production gloss all taken care of, but track after track here tries, and fails, to capitalize on a familiar sound or a style, from stylish big-beat pastiche ("Ready Steady Go") to robotic experimentalism à la Radiohead ("Motion," with Grant Lee Phillips) to evocative female singer/songwriter electronica ("Southern Sun," "Hypnotised," "Hold Your Hand"). A pair of hip-hop tracks, the sublime "Starry-Eyed Surprise" and Ice Cube's hardcore "Get Em Up," are great productions, but "Zoo York" and the Hunter S. Thompson spoken-word feature "Nixon's Spirit" are potted examples of the very blandest ethnic fusion. With so much attention being paid to the production, the songs, unfortunately, just can't compete.
by John Bush