Zen: A Retrospective

Various Artists

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Zen: A Retrospective Review

by John Bush

More a greatest-hits volume than Ninja Tune's previous multi-disc collection (the rarities-heavy Xen Cuts), the double-disc Zen: A Retrospective barely includes any Top 40 hits (the number 37 Coldcut's "More Beats & Pieces" is the highest peak), but if dance music had a Hit Parade, there'd be at least a dozen number ones here. The first disc buttonholes listeners by spinning through some of the downright hookiest tracks in dance history (Amon Tobin's "Get Your Snack On," Coldcut's "Atomic Moog 2000," Mr. Scruff's "Get a Move On," DJ Food's "Dark Lady"). The second disc hardly lets up, beginning with "More Beats & Pieces" -- a digital-turntablist symphony that qualifies as the label's highlight -- but also including career highlights (or close to it) from the Herbaliser ("Mr. Chombee Has the Flaw"), Kid Koala ("Fender Bender"), DJ Vadim ("The Terrorist"), and Cinematic Orchestra ("All That You Give"). It really does feature the best tracks that have ever been out on Ninja Tune -- who knows better than the label itself? -- and doesn't neglect the addition of a great rarity or two, like a non-LP "Get Your Head Down" by Luke Vibert and a non-CD version of "Check Fraud" by Fog. An accompanying remix CD and fully packed DVD make the Zen experience a fitting postcard to itself from the best breaks label in the business.

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