Al B. Rich

Al B. Rich

Club Nation America Volume Two

Ministry Of Sound

Preamble: Even if you like listening to electronic music, as I do, there comes a time when the similar nature of much of “techno” — the rigid rhythm patterns, looped samples of obscure disco divas, and jagged shards of burbling and buzzing synthesizer — begins to meld it all together into a characterless blob. Just between you, me and the lamppost, gentle reader, I love electronica/alternative dance/synth pop music, but sometimes it’s hard to write about compilations like this without running out of synonyms.

So I’m happy to tell you that this may be the best-constructed such I have ever heard. Al B. Rich, a duo of DJs from New York named Albert Castillo and Rich Pangilinan have selected strong music and the transitions flow smoothly. A handful of generic cuts, turn up, as is to be expected, but only one or two(relative) duds.

Now…the remainder of this review has been stripped to its naked beats. Breaking it down:

Disc One

Daniel Bedingfield–“Gotta Get Through This.” Very synth-poppy. Like late-period Depeche Mode in its sound without Martin Gore’s lyrical voice.

Mad ‘House–“Like A Prayer.” Yes, this is a cover of the almost 15-years old Madonna song. It doesn’t add much.

Who Da Funk Feat. Jessica Eve–“Shiny Disco Balls.” Now we’re talking. Having heard this song played on the radio days before listening to this CD, I was overjoyed to find it here. Straight outta Ibiza, this Kraftwerk-steady record is one of the best dance songs of the year.

Modjo–“Lady” (Hear Me Tonight).” This is one of the less than a handful of tracks on this compilation I would put in the “generic” box.

Mary J. Blige–“No More Drama.” The always-dependable Ms. Blige, and what else can I say?

(Love) Tattoo–“Drop Some Drums.” See Modjo. And this is another.

Dax Riders–“Real Fonky Time.” Real synthy bass spinning out of this one. They’re French, if that makes a difference.

M-Factor–“Mother (Are You Ready To Play?),” This slice of electro was mixed by Dirty Vegas, of “Days Go By” fame.

Starchaser–“Love Will Set You Free (Jambe Myth).” Musically a little less cliched than (Love) Tattoo or any of the other lesser songs here, but lyrically a lot more so. I mean, just look at that title…

Alive Featuring D.D. Klein–“Alive.” Somewhat detached electronica.

Full Intention Presents Shena–“I’ll Be Waiting.” Delirious “alternative” dance from Australia.

Res–“They-Say Vision”. They say Res is a former opera singer turned pop music-maker. I dunno if that’s true, but this song has a nifty little chord change in the into.

Disc Two

DJ Sammy & Yanou Feat. Do–“Heaven.” Yes, this is a cover of the almost 20-years old Bryan Adams song. I don’t have room here to go into my Bryan Adams rant. Ask me when next you and I are together. But this song is from his peak, low as that may be. This “extended mix” adds more to the original than the first disc’s Madonna cover did, turning it into derivative, childlike but undeniably catchy in a sugary, hook-filled way Eurodance.

DJ Encore Feat. Engelina–“I See Right Through To You.” Wintry synth pop, crisply played and programmed.

Origene–“Sudenly Silently.” Electronica somewhat reminiscent of the first disc’s Starchaser.

Flip & Fill feat. Kelly Llorenna–“True Love Never Dies.” Ditto, but a little heavier on the club/dance side.

H-Two Feat. Leah–“Burnin’ Fire.” This one, on the other hand, is a return to M-Factor style electro.

Brother Brown Feat Frank’ee–“Star Catching Girl.” And this is dance-pop from Copenhagen.

Static Revenger Feat. The Mullet Men–“Long Time.” First of all, you gotta love that name. Second, this one wins the well-aged sweepstakes, being a cover of the over-25 year old Boston song. Or, for all I know, not being so much up on my rock history as you might believe (all I know is that David Bowie invented it, right?), this is a remix of the original. For sure, there’s something that catches the ear and would stand out on any modern dance-pop compilation: Acoustic guitars, I think they’re called.

Raven Maize–“Fascinated.” This electronica is going for that “Ray Of Light” thing, and wins over it by a better vocal hook.

One-T–“Music is the One-T ODC.” Well-constructed dance music with an especially strong melody.

Funky Green Dogs–“You Got Me” (Burnin’ Up).” This electronica act had a couple of big hits a few years ago, but so did Nelly Furtado. Like the little percussion sample on the fills, though.

Matt Schwartz Presents Sholan–“Can You Feel (What I’m Going Thru).” Good, slick stuff, but Schwartz owes Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder a few dollars.

Frou Frou–“Breathe In.” I want to hear more from this pop duo. A stunning finish. You don’t expect a brilliant lyrical turn on an electronica compilation. You just don’t, that’s not what it’s about. And then here’s Frou Frou with “I have to be somewhere / — now where did I put it?” That’s just genius and that’s all there is to it.

Ministry Of Sound:

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