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Untouchable Outcaste Beats Vol. 1

by L. Messmer

There is something about a compilation of electronic music influenced by Indian music; than remixed with extra beats added that gets to me to think. I haven't been a big fan of the hordes of "electronic" music that has popped up since everyone started digging The Crystal Method (although they score a mean Sony Playstation game soundtrack). I dig anything that Bill Laswell does and a few things here and there, but not a big fan.

I'm glad compilations like this come out that at least give me some food for thought. Outcaste Records has released a very intriguing collection with Untouchable Outcaste Beats Vol. 1. The combination of traditional sitars and wooden flutes add an exotic flavor to the mechanical beats that layer the background of the songs. Over 14 different "bands" make up this compilation with songs ranging from laid back beats to extremely hectic rhythms that at times can make your head hurt.

In fact the way the CD is set up, the fast stuff sandwiches the trance-like music that is extremely relaxing. The Dave Pike Set starts the compilation off with "Mathar." The sitar sounds fantastic, but the beats per minute is so fast, it sounds scratchy and out of tune. The beat is too rapid for the sitar and the music at times does not match up. Song two continues the barrage of fast beats, but by song four things begin to change. Song four by Pressure Drop entitled "Theme For The Outcaste" is neat because it is a lot different form the other tracks. It integrates actual live drums in with the electronic ones and is more laid back and texture with traditional Indian instruments as well as additions by the remixers.

Another good departure is song five by Up Bustle and Out called "The Hand of Contraband" is a great song with some superb guitar that would make James Brown get up and dance. The wah wah pedal and the funky grooves are a refreshing change of pace from the nerve-racking opening songs.

This compilation's strong point is the slower tracks. I find it hard to listen to "electronic" music at home. I view it as party music with a huge mass of people dancing, not background music for a nice break reading a comic book or just staring at the ceiling. I found the middle tracks to be very tolerable and at times enjoyable. But I do suggest you listen to it in small doses. At least put it on random if you have one of them fancy CD players with all the neat stuff.

The CD starts off very fast and then for about eight songs, mellows out into some relaxing beats that eases the brain. But just when your mind is at ease song 11 kicks in and makes your eardrums go into a conniption fit. Its spastic rhythm is just a tad fast and sounds like someone just pressed fast forward in the recording room and didn't go back and change it on the album. This is the conundrum of this disc. If you are a fan of all types of "electronic" music, go for it. If you are like me and need to be eased into it, take a track at a time, but at least give it a try.

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