Various Artists

Traffic, Vol. 2

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Many of the tracks featured on Combustion's second Traffic compilation can be tagged either directly or indirectly as falling into the West London-centered scene called broken beat, a scene that seems to fit an approach/attitude more than a specific sound. It's essentially breakbeat music, but the prominent beats sputter and splinter every which way while retaining a loose structure that still qualifies as a groove -- despite the fact that many of the tracks are free of a bassline. Some of the tracks sound jazzy, some have much in common with funky hip-hop, and some sound like logical progressions from drum'n'bass. Some can be highly detailed and track-oriented, while others can sound as natural as a live band playing a modern form of jazz fusion. Traffic, Vol. 2 hardly makes for a definitive statement of broken beat, but that has to do with overriding stylistic shades of some of the tracks, not quality. Some of the contributors, such as Aardvarck, are more descendants of Black Dog-style early-'90s U.K. techno than progenitors of future jazz. And another, from Russia's SCSI-9, has more to do with dubby German house than breakbeat science. Kabuki's "Tempest" is a definite broken beat track, the best moment here. A bass frequency that sounds livened up from a bowel-shaking drum'n'bass production looms in and out of the track, which is built on quick, stunted, fractured splices of thick percussion. A number of keyboards add mood -- one zaps and pings, one drones on and adds a moody dimension, and another adds a blip here and there. It's important to note that over half of the tracks come from Combustion's own roster and that most of them fare well compared to their counterparts.