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X-Press 2

Muzikizum (Skint/Columbia)

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On his own, London house producer Ashley Beedle has been one of clubland's most consistently popular producers, churning out jazz- and funk-inspired tracks under the names Black Science Orchestra and Black Jazz Chronicles. But Beedle's greatest work came in 1993, when he teamed up with the DJ duo Rocky & Diesel, and under the name X-Press 2 issued three disco-infused 12-inches, including the classic "Muzik Express." Nearly a decade later, they've produced an album that's nearly as striking as their earlier work.

Muzikizum is hardly groundbreaking; most of the songs are pitched about halfway between that of a hands-in-the-air instrumental rave anthem and the more self-consciously "mature" club tracks Beedle is famous for, and they enhance one another instead of canceling each other out. As a result, tracks such as "Smoke Machine," "Supasong," and "AC/DC" have the gentle propulsion and slow-build dynamics of trance, without any of that genre's treacly melodrama. The guests help, too; Yello's Dieter Meier mutters gutter seductively on "I Want You Back," and David Byrne's turn on "Lazy" is the best thing he's done since Talking Heads broke up. With a nonchalant singsong melody cushioning Byrne's sly lyrics ("I'm wicked and I'm lazy/Oh, don't you want to save me?"), the song is one of 2002's biggest club hits -- an honor it completely deserves.

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