DJ Spooky/Various Celestial Mechanix: The Blue Series MasterMix

Celestial Mechanix is a mega-mix that tours the Thirsty Ear record label’s Blue Series catalogue. It’s a good mix of jazz, trip-hop, hip-hop and the regions where they intersect. Lovers of the Ninja Tune label’s Solid Steel radio program and CDs will be instantly familiar with the sounds and styles. DJ Spooky mixes together 35 tracks over 78 minutes. As little as one minute of a track can be used, before going on the next. At this speed none outlasts their welcome. There are a wide variety of sounds, from jazzy loops to flutes, live acoustic bass, fat beats, scratching and electronic sounds. Spooky’s mixing and track selection is good, the mix covers many sonic spaces — in general the first half has all the funk and hip-hop, while the second part has the more experimental beats and some jazz that lead up to a great ending in full-blown spaced-out mode. A few tracks have rapping, performed straight or chopped up by a sampler, but it’s mostly instrumentals. I wouldn’t call any of them party anthems, but there are many funky sections, interspersed with jazzy or beat-less interludes. Also included is a second CD containing 11 remixes Spooky has done for the Blue series. There are some good ones, but the mix is where he really shines. (Thirsty Ear)