Various Artists

Legally Stoned: A New High in Drum & Bass, Vol. 1

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The sunlit marijuana grove pictured on the front cover of this two-disc set gives you a good idea of what to expect within: drum'n'bass of the ambient, almost ethereal variety, with synthesizer washes, diva-esque vocal samples, and breakbeats that are jumpy but gentle and not too aggressively forward in the mix. Disc one presents 14 tracks in a continuous DJ mix, while disc two consists of an "unmixed" program of 11 tracks. It's difficult to address the pieces individually, because this particular type of drum'n'bass tends, more than other types, to all sound very much the same. On the mixed disc, Grapevine does a couple of rhythmically unique things on "Carlito," and there 's a certain freshness to the sound of "Nookie" by Funk Be the Flavour. Disc two keeps things a bit more interesting -- there's a nice flute part on "Shogun" by Pegasus and a bracing hardness at the core of "Helen T (Freestyle Mix)" by Jake's Progress. But for the most part, the proceedings settle into a sort of fuzzy, undifferentiated pleasantness that makes this album great background music, but not worth paying too much attention to.

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