Approaching two full decades into its lifespan, the classic "Amen" break -- culled from the Winston Brothers' "Amen" single -- had driven hundreds of hip-hop and jungle recordings. Still, it'd probably never been cut and chopped or sliced and diced quite like it was on this compilation of late-'90s recordings from the hard drive of Keith Whitman. The opener, "Routine Exercise," belies its title with a flurry of processed beats that never quite lose the rhythm, while "Atelier" gets trigger-happy on the sample with multiple breaks going off at different times. Apart from the focus on percussion programming, there's really not much else going on except for a few melodies and atmospheres (courtesy of jazz or cinema samples). But given the raft of other breakbeat-happy drill'n'bass records in the racks, it's a bit of a surprise that Hrvatski keeps the proceedings surprisingly funky -- he's liable to shift directions at any moment, but never loses his feel for the beat in hand. All in all, Oiseaux 1996-1998 is a good record to hunt down for those who've worn out their copies of Plug's Drum'n'bass for Papa.
AllMusic Review by John Bush