Various Artists

The Future Sound of Jazz, Vol. 1 [Instinct]

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The title of this 1996 electronic music compilation was a bit pretentious when the album was released, and it grows even more so with each passing year. Many of artists and songs collected here perform in a drum'n'bass fashion better geared to 1996 than later years, and it's not a particularly jazzy collection. Still, there are a number of fine early selections of hip-hop/electronica fusion. Nightmares on Wax's stunning, evocative "Nights Interlude" is one of the finest jazz-inspired slices of electronica of all time, so it's inclusion here is a bonus. Svan Van Hees contributes a pretty instrumental that shimmers with mood and feeling. µ-Ziq's "Hector's House" sounds like a hybrid of Joy Division melancholy and a Swinging London film score, as icy synth washes and deep bass mingle. A majority of the remaining tracks don't accomplish the mysterious jazz noir that they set out to create. At least the Aphex Twin remix of Gentle People far surpasses the music heard on the band's sappy albums. The Future Sound of Jazz might make more sense had it been titled The Sound of Drum'n'Bass 1996. That's not to say that the compilers didn't have good intentions or that they're guilty of false advertising -- it's just that they failed to live up to the moniker and to the quality of the better tracks.

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