I actually had no plans to pick up this album. I was in the record store to get my hands on physical copies of Amnesiac (which, by the way, everyone should own, if only for the dirty techno-funk of "Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors") and "My Red Hot Car" (Squarepusher in da hizzy!). The cover caught my eye as I walked past the soundtrack section (hmm, I wonder why...) and I thought to myself, "I wonder who's on this besides U2?"
I was, therefore, completely unprepared to find Nine Inch Nails, The Chemical Brothers, Leftfield, Outkast, Missy Elliot, Moby, BT, Fluke, Fatboy Slim, Delerium, and Basement Jaxx listed on the back. Um, wow? To the cash register I went, and boy was it worth the purchase! The phatness abounds, from the sheer insanity of the "Get Ur Freak On" remix (which does away with Missy's limpid rap and slaps on a truly DERANGED performance by Nelly Furtado) and "Speedballin'" (which shows Outkast attempting to merge hip-hop, gospel, and happy hardcore... and succeeding) to a taste of the new Basement Jaxx album ("Where's Your Head At?", a stomper of a tune which is best described as "Same Ol' Show" done as a complete song rather than a demo beat) and the absolutely euphoric "Devil's Nightmare" by Oxide and Neutrino (creepy male choristers + 2-step garage beat = INSTANT CLASSIC).
Even the weak tracks have something going for them. U2's contribution ("Elevation") comes across as empty stadium bombast, yet still will make your toes tap. The NIN track ("Deep") is The Fragile-lite, meaning it's ultimately disposable but contains some nice music at its core. And Fatboy Slim's "Illuminati" is nothing more than Bootsy Collins ranting over the fierce stomper "Michael Jackson" from Better Living Through Chemistry. This annoys me intensely but if he HAD to wholly cannibalize one of his earlier tracks, he picked the right one.
There are 15 tracks in all with nary a skit in sight. That's rare enough these days. If you have any fondness for "electronica" (oh, how I despise that word), do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this.
DAN'S RATING: GRROOVY!