Home Run

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Partially switching back to the duo's more typical straight-ahead approach after the sparkling success of Da Damn Phreak Noize Phunk?, Home Run takes its baseball fascination all the way -- not merely is all the artwork about it, but all the song titles are various terms from the sport, such as "Pinch-Hitter" and "Splitfinger Fastball." Musically, though, there aren't any interjections of samples from recordings of the game or the like -- Home Run just concentrates on getting the business done, smoothly flowing from track to track like a good mix session. Where the duo does bring in the funk more directly via rolling beats instead of acid pulses, it does so with more clatter and slop than before, as on the breaks that make up the enjoyable "Double-Steal," drones and cries slipping around the central drums of the mix. When the bass kicks in it, the connection between Hardfloor's past and potential future becomes enjoyably clear. Other varied mixes include the amusingly titled "Beavis at Bat," with an abbreviated buildup sequence familiar from their earlier work with that time-honored standby, and the immediately following slow and loping funk of "Knuckle Skills," which sounds like a flat-out tribute to the work of the Ninja Tune label. Certainly there's an obvious dub nod as well but, while avoiding jungle loops, the speaker-bouncing extra hits add a nicely unsettled edge. Other cuts like "Line-Drive" and the title track take the more straightforward approach, but with an enjoyable new burst of energy that makes for an improvement on the slightly lackluster Respect.

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