Various Artists

Golden Gate Breaks, Vol. 1

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Once again, Om Records demonstrates its pre-eminence in the San Francisco electronica scene by inaugurating yet another new series of beats-and-breaks compilations. If the first volume is anything to go by, the Golden Gate Breaks series will be a solid winner. Featuring such mixmasters as Soulstice, DJ Noel, Ming & FS, and Bassnectar, volume one offers a continuous mix of tracks that nicely balance smooth, sometimes jazzy textures with gritty, hard-edged beats. There are occasional hints of house (as on the transitional section about midway through Bassnectar's excellent "Udu Shuffle"), and every once in a while the rhythms edge over the line into a sort of decorous version of jungle. A few of these tracks are actually songs, and those are among the album's finest moments: "Lockdown" by Soulstice features echoey, club-style vocals by Gina Rene and a funky hesitation-step beat; Noel's "Invasion," which is not actually quite a song, juxtaposes jittery beats with brilliantly deconstructed vocal parts and an only slightly stale KRS-One sample; and best of all, Mophono's "Sun Power" is a bright and sunny concoction of Latin percussion, shimmery guitars, and what sounds like a small children's choir singing a one-phrase chorus over and over. Highly recommended.

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