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V/A - The Death of Cool Part 2 (Leaf)

supposed Noodles artist Zygmunt Janowski

How many Noodles can you eat? Three years after the release of his first Death of Cool compilation, which first appeared on his Noodles label, British producer Si Begg serves up a second helping of eclectic, electronic mayhem with the help of Tony Morley's Leaf label. It's a hearty collection of sample-based funk, drill and bass rhythms, cheeky cut and paste experimentation and techno pop from Mr. Begg and his international legion of cronies. Some of the artists featured are fairly well known (Jamie Lidell, Neil Landstrumm, MDK, Mouse On Mars) outside of Si Begg's Cabbage and Noodle collectives, which helps complete this genre-defying collection of electronic music that comes heavily spiced with its own blend of obnoxious charm.

Much of its charm lies within the break-neck pacing of it all. It's edited in a way that keeps one's interest, however, it borders on the aural equivalent of eating too fast. The rhythm-heavy grooves featured on The Death Of Cool Part 2 are offset by found-sound intermissions performed by various alter-egos with names like Cabbage Head, The Buttmasters and Mr. Mahoney. These spastic, art-attack collages keep the listening mind alert and constantly primed for its big, chunky beats and stir-fryed breaks. DEEP BURIAL provides the collection's biggest beat - a hip-hop beat, cloaked in a shroud of sampled suspense and a plucked harp. ANODYNE's good taste in drum machines and complex rhythms goes down well on "Breakbeat Exp.9." Also impressive is the horn-happy SAND, who display a shuffling, conga-thumper highlighted with acoustic horn and bass melodies, providing a blast of fresh air amidst much digital alchemy. Perhaps the most inventive contribution comes from JAMIE LIDELL, who may have invented laptop beat-box with his track "Mouth Fool." If Bobby McFerrin did a lp for Warp Records, this is probably what it would sound like, but all kidding aside, it's really quite good, and the more i play it, the more i find myself scatting along with it. The biggest crowd-pleaser comes from MOU ARS ON (yep, Cologne's Mouse On Mars) with their baby-voiced, uptempo track "Putza Tock Baby". It's this narrative quality found on both the intermissions and within many of the tracks that gives The Death Of Cool Part 2 its appeal.

Some of the cheekiness is a bit over the top though, most notably on head-noodle SI BEGG's opening number. His "New and Different Kind of Experiment" is skillful, but long-winded and doesn't improve upon previous, similar experiments conducted by Prince Paul and Grandmaster Flash. The limits of obnoxious, digital manipulation are taken to its most obvious extreme on CABBAGE HEAD's time-stretched, epileptic interjections and on "Spice", CULTURE CRUNCHER's deconstruction of the Spice Girls. Si Begg and Co.s penchant for old school hip-hop and drum-and-bass sounds sounds collide with a lesson learned in the Negativland school of cultural repositioning. However, its overall nose-thumbing spirit would rather you take the piss.

Billed as "The Stupidest Recording Organization in the World", the Noodles imprint seems steadfast in its opposition to repetitive, club music; be it trance, minimal tech-house or other popular styles rooted in the detroit school of electronic music. These inventive producers prefer to push the envelope rhythmically, rarely staying locked in any groove, and effectively rely on style and skill. It's a lot to digest at once, and perhaps a bit overspiced, but it is no less enjoyable and mysteriously improves upon repeated listening.


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[email protected] | May 2001 | Issue 14