James Lavelle - Global Underground #023 - Barcelona (Global Underground)
By Philip Raffaele
Anyone that knows me personally knows my unbridled passion for anything Mo'Wax related...
But my struggle to understand James Lavelle for the past few years has made things rather difficult. After a brutal legal battle, and a serious fight for the rights to the name Mo'Wax itself, we were able to get some real gems out of Mo'Wax. We had albums from Divine Styler, Nigo, South, Axelrod, Andrea Parker, and a slew of 12's from other artists, merchandise, and general involvement in what it takes to make a great label. And then, it slowly sputtered out. Rumours abounded that Lavelle had handed over the reigns to Toby Feltwell, and decided to stop focusing on the label's future, and instead concentrate on becoming a superstar DJ.
Well, first off, Lavelle is notorious for not being a great DJ. Remember all those great mixes on the Breezeblock, and the insanely good Cream 2 set? Apparently, Lavelle was only attached to those by name, and it was actually the Psychonauts who did the mixing. Lavelle reprised his role as 'co-ordinator', chose the tracks and I assume the order. But behind the wheels of steel, he hasn't been known for his skills. Now, with the monumental 3-disc 'Do androids dream of electric beats' mix, that was composed with Richard 'Forme' File on Pro Tools, which I assume the Fabric mix was as well, but I'm not positive.
OK, let's get to the album. Lavelle joined forces with Global Underground, and has released a 2-disc mix. Does this solidify his superstar DJ status? Let's hope so, so that he can get back to what he does back, producing and signing interesting avant-hip hop groups for some more killer Mo'Wax releases.
The album, supposed to capture "the spirit of Barcelona" has a majority of killer tracks, like Shadow's 'Mongrel Meets It's Maker', and Leftfield's 'Dusted'. It's also worth it to hear the as-yet unreleased UNKLE remix of Ian Brown's 'Fear'. Great original track, great remix. I also liked seeing the Dead Prez track on the mix, as well as The Doves track. But for some reason, even though Lavelle has been behind and associated with some of the most wildly entertaining musicians in the past decade, he continues to be obsessed with playing tracks by FC Kahuna and Duncan gray, who I consider to be just generic Techno-garbage. While others might disagree, the amount of really great stuff he is privy to, you think there would be some Forme tracks, like on the Fabric mix, or some unreleased Psychonauts material.
For the most part, it's a good selection of tracks, but it just seems like not enough thought was put into it. The masterpieces that have come out with Lavelle's involvement have just been too well-orchestrated for him to come out with something like this. Some of the tracks are a bit trite, and the possibilities are huge, and with such a high-profile release like this, for some reason i thought he'd choose to highlight some of those possibilities.
So, no one knows, this year could mark the death of Mo'Wax. So far, we've seen the latest Skelf release, and some more of the shitty Jordan Fields material is due out before the end. But if that Psychonauts album never comes out, then I have a feeling that people will be out for blood. i say, stick to what you know best, and give the people what they want. besides, once someone becomes a 'Superstar DJ', no self-respecting music head likes them anymore.