Various Artists

Taster: Sounds from the Funky Underground

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On the electronica scene, someone who says "I like Taster, they're really cool" is making the same kind of dopey-D comment as the rock & roll novice who acclaims Jethro Tull because "he's a great musician" or the blues wienie who thinks that Taj Mahal is a band and "Sonny, Terry and Brownie" are a trio. The Chocolate Fireguard label made use of the word "taster" in the title of a compilation that wound up doing much better than most, but no group named Taster even got a taste of the project. Taster: Sounds from the Funky Underground was the full title, by 2005 splashed across the front of a pair of volumes. While it was the electronica fan who no doubt drew first blood with the first volume in the series, enthusiastic critics were quick to point out the diversity of the British-based venture -- especially in contrast to stereotyped notions of electronica. These tracks can hardly be said to all sound alike and cynically, one could damn with faint praise by remarking that some of the featured performers can hardly be considered electronica at all. Quattro, for example, is a nine-piece rhythm and blues band from Wales, similar in a way to a group such as the Commitments but also totally suited to the prevailing Euro-club requirements. The group's vocalist, Dionne Morgan, has also recorded with DJ and producer High Contrast.

Other performers featured in this collection include Headbound and the alienated "Recluse," "Funked Up and Freaked Out" by a Kava Kava that is neither sleep-inducing nor a banned substance, the optimistic "All Will Be Well" by the Bluefoot Project and edited versions of dancefloor epics such as "Platinum," "Paradiso," and "Jive Honey."

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