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September 2003

DJ Smash
Phonography 2
Blue Note Records

Two years ago, DJ Smash chronicled Blue Note's relationship with '90s DJ culture on Phonography, and that profile continues on Phonography 2. Like with the previous effort, some material works better than others.

It's often said that hip-hop recognizes no sacred cows and that any and all music is up for revamping. Still, not everything works as a remix. For all of trumpeter Erik Truffaz's claimed allegiance with electronica, for instance, the Imhotep remix of "Magrouni" sounds remarkably pedestrian, marred with the kind of canned beats you're likely to hear in some hi-tech elevator. Smash's own remix of Bob Belden's cover of Prince's "Kiss" reinforces its sophomoric rendering, and DJ Kingsize's drum 'n' bass treatment of Belden's take on the Beatles' "Come Together," featuring Cassandra Wilson and Dianne Reeves, is dreadfully dated.

Phonography 2 works best when Smash takes songs that were already meant for the dance floor and recasts them. In the middle of the CD, he successfully links Koop's gentle remix of "Jazz Mediterranee" by French balladeer Henri Salvador with musically astute, percussion-heavy floor fillers such as Joe Claussell's treatment of the Wild Magnolias' "Battlefield," Marc Moulin's "Into the Dark" and St. Germain's "So Flute." In doing so, Smash creates a seamless, evolving vibe that you'd expect from a top-tier DJ. Unfortunately, moments like that emerge all too infrequent on Phonography 2. And with Blue Note being a goldmine for DJs, it's baffling that Smash didn't dig deeper.

Originally published in September 2003
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