If you're an MTV VJ and you're looking to shore up some street cred, then you probably don't want to name your 2001 dance mix Essential Spring Break. (Aspirin and birth control not included.) And slapping Matrix cover art on your February release, Reloaded, is not exactly the best way to immunize yourself from cries of "commercialization!" from the electronica peanut gallery. That's undeniable, but DJ Skribble's latest effort, a collaboration with Anthony Acid, definitely aims for something wider than what he's kicked out in recent years.
"It's a little more mature, a little more global," Skribs says by phone from New York, his Long Island accent as thick as some of the beats on his CD. Despite Acid's shamelessly self-important intro (in which he fellates himself with lovey-dovey pronouncements like "House is a feeling because house music is a universal language spoke and understood by all"), the mix is front-loaded with the strongest stuff. Hypnotic piano keys plink across their handling of Lee Cabrera's "Shake It," stretching the song's funky texture into something more complex and redeeming the cheesiness of its polyphonic ring tone. And "Amazing (Antoine Clamaran mix)" submerges beats seductively and channels some of Daft Punk's nicer flourishes. But the album gets stuck in a soggy midsection, abandoning stuff like the Spanish chants of the early portion in favor of silly pop vocals. Overall, it devolves from a fresh party grab bag into a quagmire of plodding treadmill-like repetition. Still, the inclusion of Pat Benatar lyrics buried deep within "Doo Wap (Heartbreaker Mix)" is witty enough, as are the trance excursions on "I'm Waiting."
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It's clear that Skribble, who rose to fame a decade ago and has since performed with rock, hip-hop and dance headliners, craves expansion, even within the narrow confines of super-duper-stardom. "I didn't want to just pigeonhole myself into one style of music," he says. "To me, a DJ can go into any situation like a chameleon. Most DJs can play just trance or just hip-hop. I want to be able to rock a crowd that likes all kinds of music." On Reloaded, Skribble blends into the environment with varying degrees of success -- an accomplishment, given his stated goal of being all things to all people.