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Roni Size & Reprazent

In the Mode (Talkin' Loud/Island)

Remember all those magazine spreads declaring techno the official music of the new millennium? Now look at the American techno scene. If you just asked yourself, "What techno scene?" you have hit it on the nose. Even worse, the only way some of these artists survive is by becoming dupes for The Man! Nearly every Moby or Fatboy Slim release soon morphs into a jingle or sitcom theme. (Moby's "Body Rock" the theme for Veronica's Closet? -- I mean, what the fuck!?!)

With In the Mode, Size and his crew create drum 'n' bass at its most polished -- and its most accessible. None of that convoluted, Goldiesque bullshit, thank you. This is a dance album that people can shake their ass to without wondering just what kind of freaky shit is on the box. In that sense, Mode is Roni Size's first "commercial" album, the one that breaks him out of the jungle stigma and into U.S. dance clubs coast to coast.

But Size hasn't completely bitched himself out. There are tracks that prove he can still drop with his priorities intact. Size has fun dueling with human beatbox Rahzel on "In Tune with the Sound" or carelessly indulging in his own fast-paced feats, like on "Snapshot" and "Mexican." On "Dirty Beats" Size clearly justifies his newfound give-and-take philosophy. "You can't expect to reach the top without a little climbing," he says, his English accent pouncing on each syllable.

Perhaps, if the United States takes a shine to Mode, Size'll be able to weave 'em in, like a hornet stuck in a spider's web. That way when his next album comes along, he can wrap 'em up in the good shit!

 
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