DJ Smash Presents Phonography

After a decade of pioneering remixes, especially in relationship to Blue Note records, DJ Smash catalogues a commendable collection of tracks, displaying Blue Note's commitment to not just jazz but the art of remixing itself. In theory, this is exciting because it has a crossover appeal that is as sophisticated as it is eclectic. In practice, however, only a few of the 14 tracks manage to have considerable repeated listening power. Perhaps expectations will be high with names such as Medeski Martin & Wood, Guru, Todd Terry, St.Germain, Us3 and CL Smooth in the mix. The trouble with Phonography is that its crossover appeal makes for high expectations. There is every bit of the hip-hop, raga-style, rude boy spins and house to junglist rhythms. The overall effect is, at times, brilliant, such as Us3's remix of their track "Riddim," and Joe Claussell's year-old remixes of Cassandra Wilson, featuring Angelique Kidjo. Claussell's two other contributions, involving Salif Keita and Ronny Jordan, respectively, are also classic Claussell staples, with their live Afro-Latin instrumentation and complex rhythms. Todd Terry's remix of the Richard Elliot track "So Special" is smooth, sensual horns fronting a house beat. But somehow these individual tracks get lost in the overall mix. It is one of those confusing releases that listeners may feel they ought to like but struggle to really groove to. However, it certainly fares better than most of the poor excuses for chill-out music. (Blue Note)