Over the past few years, Astralwerks has been one of the most reliable and commercially viable electronic music labels out there. Its roster includes such genre heavyweights as the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, Air, Basement Jaxx, and the recent addition Primal Scream. With artists like that fueling the company, it was only a matter of time before they were all thrown together into a package gathering miscellaneous stray tracks and B-sides. Rarewerks, the inevitable 11-cut compilation, includes leftovers from the aforementioned people, as well as odds and ends from label stalwarts Photek, the Beta Band, and the Future Sound of London. And because electronica lends itself so readily to the art of remixing (more than half of Rarewerks originated as special mixes distributed to club DJs), this bulky and unwieldy set ultimately is no more than a super mix tape focused on label loyalty.
Occasionally, though, it blissfully reinforces why that label loyalty isn't misguided. Choice cuts include Fatboy Slim's "How Can You Hear Us?", a track recorded around the same time as "The Rockafeller Skank," but not nearly as breathless in its execution; Sasha's 13-minute instrumental mix of the Chemical Brothers' "Out of Control"; and David Morales's "Latin Dub Mix" of Basement Jaxx's "Bingo Bango" (he gives the playful track a complete cultural facelift). But unless you're a dedicated follower of techno fashion, you're better off with individual albums by the top-billed artists, where the pieces fall together better, than you are with this glittery collection of attic finds.
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