Bunkka (Maverick)

Paul Oakenfold is one of the most successful globe-trotting producer-DJs in the world, thanks in part to his skill at transforming pop-rock into prime-time party material. The ease with which he turns out mainstream-friendly remixes of U2, Madonna, and the Cure makes it a no-brainer that Oakenfold would eventually attempt the dreaded "artist album," showing us just how diverse his influences are and proving -- wink, wink -- that he's more than just another DJ.

The only problem is, Oakenfold's hip-hop and guitar-based rock influences have little to do with this hunk of Bunkka. Sure, there's the album opener "Ready_Steady-Go," which combines a flanged-out guitar riff with some Fat of the Land-era Prodigy flavor; then there's the unintentionally comedic "Get Em Up," featuring Ice Cube. But the rest of Bunkka is lost in a twinkling, wispy haze of electronica. The record's pulse rarely rises above 110 bpm as vocal contributors like Perry Farrell, Emiliana Torrini, Grant Lee Phillips, and Shifty Shellshock (of Crazy Town infamy) make their peace with some light breakbeats, gently ebbing bass lines, and celestial synth swells. Torrini turns "Hold Your Hand" into a slice of pure Björk goodness, and Shellshock delivers an unavoidably catchy "Starry-Eyed Surprise," but we still can't help asking, where's the party?

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