Various Bigger Dirtier Beats

Big beat has largely been seen as the braying, loutish, frat boy cousin in the electronica family — loud, straightforwardly layered beats with all the subtlety of a belching contest next to the esoteric rhythms embraced by their more studious, ethically engaged drum & bass kin. And just how much credibility could you expect of a sub-genre that sprung half-formed from John Barry’s James Bond theme? That point becomes more salient when you consider that big beat luminaries like the Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim are more far more celebrated in Bond-fantasising Details and Maxim than in the Wire. This compilation isn’t going to dispel that perception either, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. After all, one thing Fatboy Slim, Chemicals, and Propellerheads have done is infuse dense dance beats with pop hooks more infectious than any dance music since disco. Unfortunately, overtones of ‘60s soul, cool jazz and instrumental rock have absented themselves for the most part on Bigger, Dirtier Beats, their place taken by mind-numbing repetition and endlessly looped dance club chants that recall the nadir of techno knockoffs of a few years back. And when you say that the two best tracks on the compilation, by the Wiseguys and the Wax Assassins have a fairly facile, anthemic quality that makes them sound like they’re made from blaring out of hockey arena PA’s whenever a goal is scored, well, that’s going to consign them to the music for lunkheads heap for, um, the more demanding listener. On the other hand, the Beastie Boys were derided along more or less the same lines 12 years ago. (Moonshine)