It's easy to forget just how boring most dance floor drum 'n' bass is when it's not being skillfully manipulated by a good DJ. Leave it to the Full Cycle posse (which includes Roni Size and all the key Reprazent players) to drive that point home with the latest installment of its Through the Eyes
series, presented by DJ Die. Most of the tracks on the unmixed disc sound like stripped-down versions of tracks from Size's In the Mode
-- bouncy beats, vapid bass lines, and sci-fi snippets that the crew would have you believe are utterly futuristic. The breakbeat patterns are generally unchallenging, and some of the bass lines sound a bit like a close encounter with a vacuum cleaner. But there are some bright spots, including "Driver," which makes use of cascading cymbals, down-to-earth vocal samples, and guitar-strumming that adds a bit of groove, just when things are starting to lock into repetition. Unfortunately, the mixed disc, where all of this material should truly come to life, is marred, because Die repeatedly distorts the pitches of synths and vocals as he slows down or speeds up tracks, in order to compensate for his poor beat-matching skills.
Fusion, the latest album from Compost Records owners Roland Appel and Christian Prommer, who record as Fauna Flash, provides a perfect sonic counterpoint to Full Cycle's insular drum 'n' bass. As the album title suggests, Fauna Flash has fused its drum 'n' bass with Brazilian drumplay in order to create a sort of next-millennium samba school that would undoubtedly have breasts heaving and rumps shaking at Rio's annual Carnival. Meanwhile, Deidry Jones's soulful vocals make "Free" a track that should go over just as well in clubs as at home. Add to all that the fact that Fauna Flash is equally skilled when producing deep house cuts -- a point it proves on "Alone Again" and "Ten" -- and it becomes obvious that Fusion is just good music, whether it's heard on or off the dance floor.