Freestylers

Fabriclive.19

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American breaks fans may not recognize all of the artists featured on this celebrated duo's contribution to the Fabriclive mix series, but they'll get acclimated soon enough. Recording under the name SCAM, the Freestylers themselves contribute two of the album's highlight tracks, the ska-inflected "Killer" and a nice reworking of Johnny Osbourne's "Buddy Bye" titled "Put Up Your Hands." But most of the program finds them cutting and scratching over the work of other members of Britain's breakbeat scene, including Phuture Assassins (whose "Forever" draws heavily on a vintage Twinkle Brothers track), Azzido da Bass (whose "Dooms Night" is presented here in a brilliant Timo Maas remix), and the Breakfastaz (whose "Kick It" provides a forum for some virtuosic scratching by the Freestylers). While everything here has a generally hip-hop sort of feel, there's a pervasive reggae undertone to many of these tracks; sometimes reggae of the old-school variety and sometimes the secondhand type, like the big chunks of Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" that undergird the Breakfastaz' "Spit It Out." The result is a rich and heady mixture of beats and moods and a program that works equally well for dancing or just listening. Highly recommended.

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