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Rob Wasserman 

Space Island
(Atlantic)

In 1983, bassist Rob Wasserman released his debut album Solos and followed it with Duets and Trios. On his fourth release, Wasserman focuses on producing a variety of different rhythms. With a title such as Space Island, you'd expect loads of ambience and New Age musical backdrops. Far removed from that type of self-involvement, Space Island consists of mostly instrumental dance music that moves fluidly. With the 11 tracks here, Wasserman is just as concerned about getting you to shake your ass as he is with impressing you with his skillful mix of bass, percussion, and additional instrumentation.

Wasserman has slowly led up to this album by working on various projects over the past few years. His membership in Ratdog (Bob's Weir's post-Grateful Dead band) allows him to slide back and forth between being a soloist and a band member. More important, his work with drummer Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction, Porno for Pyros) in the rhythm-prone unit Banyan plays a part on this latest endeavor. Perkins shows up here as well, and his lively abilities consistently lock in with Wasserman's, creating one exhilarating groove after another. They set the foundation for each song, and then add turntables and trumpets. The graceful one-two punch of "Wildside" and "Love Song" gives way to the dreamy, scratch-enhanced "Got to Rock." Later, on the ballad "Ipanema," Wasserman displays his melodic flair while quoting from the Beatles' "Yesterday." By the end, the mood turns more worldbeat than dance floor, but at that point, you're set up for such explorations. As the MC on "Hillbilly Hip Hop" explains, "This ain't no acid funk, jazz, or dreadlock rock."

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