The art of sampling has gone through so many permutations since the early days of hip-hop, and has gone from cutting edge to passé in so many repeating cycles, that the whole concept of borrowing and recombining musical elements from old sources has become just one more ingredient common to nearly all dance music subgenres, kind of the way almost every soup recipe has onions in it. For Tom Van Buskirk and George Langford of Javelin, the idea of sampling is more about lifting explicit influences and re-creating them than looping actual recordings (though they do some of that as well). On Javelin's first full-length album, the result of their five years of experimentation is a unique sound that can perhaps best be summed up as "silly vocals and serious grooves." Sometimes the silliness gets just a bit cloying, as on "Mossy Woodland" with its bizarre juxtaposition of a serious lyric and synthesized children's voices, or the unpleasantly wanky guitar and general aimlessness of "Tell Me What It Will Be?" But for the most part, the cutesiness is kept just controlled enough to make the songs intriguing: the goofy disco groove and (possibly sampled) falsetto vocals on "On It on It" and soul/bluebeat Farfisa organ of "Shadow Heart" both exude a hipster irony that never quite tips over into smugness. Then there's the album-ending "Goal/Wide," whose highly fractured vocals and gentle acoustic guitar and glockenspiel accompaniment somehow combine to create one of the most mature tracks on the record. If you enjoy this one, then go digging for their self-released demo collection Jamz n Jemz and their limited-edition Thrill Jockey 12" releases, Javelin and Number Two.
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AllMusic Review by Rick Anderson