Various Artists

Electronic Tribute to the Grateful Dead

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While Electronic Tribute to the Grateful Dead is surprisingly good as an electronic music collection, it isn't because of any kindly intervention from a certain gray-bearded angel. Despite the song titles -- "Truckin'," "Box of Rain," "Friend of the Devil" -- there is no tenable link between the Grateful Dead and the music on this album. The mostly big beat and ambient house arrangements from a series of relatively unknown electronic artists are effective and danceable, with solid production. The album is entirely instrumental, but for a processed female vocal on "Brokedown Palace" that lends the song an unfortunate Euro-house feel. Motor Industries contribute a funkified "Ripple" that's closer to Kruder & Dorfmeister than American Beauty. About the only thing that even remotely connects these versions to their titular source material are some truly spacy breaks. For example, J.P. Melen's "Dark Star" is driven by a percussive bottom end, but its synthesized flutes do lend it an esoteric feel similar to the Dead classic it wants to be. Make no mistake: Electronic Tribute to the Grateful Dead is one long, strange trip.

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