DJ Clever

Troubled Waters

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The problem with most drum'n'bass DJ mixes or artist albums is that they tend to be pretty samey, and they all tend to be samey in the same way: lots of minor-key keyboard washes shimmering above evil-sounding descending basslines and robotic warp-speed breakbeats. It's a great sound, but not necessarily one that holds up well without significant variation for an hour at a time. On this compilation of singles culled from the Offshore label catalog, DJ Clever accomplishes what few others have managed before him: instead of working from a musical palette consisting entirely of shades of metallic grey, he draws on a bright, tuneful array of musical styles and a surprisingly varied range of textures to create one of the sunniest, most consistently enjoyable drum'n'bass mixes of the year. Beginning with Fracture & Neptune's minimalist "Normality Complex," which creates enough musical interest through beat arrangements alone to make you forget how little else is going on, and ending with Alaska's glitteringly lovely "Rare Earth," which somehow manages to communicate a relaxing meditative beauty despite its hyperkinetic funky drums, Troubled Waters provides a fascinating overview of one of America's finest underground dance labels. Highly recommended.