Music » CD Reviews

Fatboy Slim

"Illuminati" / "Camber Sands" / "The Pimp" (Skint/Astralwerks)

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It isn't difficult to figure out what went wrong with Fatboy Slim's last disc, the flop Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. Norman Cook has always been quick to point out that his formula for success is simple -- take every one of the conventions that makes dance music catchy and tweak it way too far. So now that people are tired of the quick giggles and cheap rush of tracks like "Rockafeller Skank" and "Praise You," Cook is letting some of the dance scene's more subtle sonic auteurs take a stab at rewriting his last effort.

The best results of these three EPs come on "Illuminati" and "The Pimp," including both title cuts, which are previously unreleased Slim originals that would have been easy standouts on Halfway. On "Illuminati," Timo Maas pumps out an acid-damaged house rework of "Star 69," and the Stanton Warriors lend "Demons" some breakbeat complexity and a swooping bass line to play off Slim's Fender Rhodes melody. On "The Pimp," Hâkan Lidbo builds "Drop the Hate" into a steamy Chicago-flavored gospel house gem, complete with a steppin' bass riff, while Freq Nasty infuses the strung-out disco riffs in "Retox" with a bawdy bass wave that heads straight for the hips. Looks like Fatboy has earned a reprieve from the Gutter.

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