Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars
It's easy, relatively speaking, to make a good dance tune - grab a few beats, throw in a catchy hook or two, repeat. Chances are that you have just produced something that will make someone, somewhere shake their money-maker. Writing a good song, however, is much more difficult. A song - at least one you would want to listen to repeatedly or intently - has to move the heart and mind, not just the booty.
As many techno outfits have learned the hard way, what sounds good at a club at 3 a.m. often seems mechanical and repetitive on a Discman the next morning. In response, electronica acts have sampled everything from medieval poetry to Hindu chants in hopes of instilling the organic, breathing edge their sequencers and synthesizers lack.
Few people are better at this than Norman Cook, better known as Fatboy Slim. The inspired, vital recombinations of old soul, R & B, hip-hop and dancehall Cook presented on You've Come A Long Way Baby, his first album, were virtually ubiquitous last year, and the resulting hype made him a superstar. Fortunately, he has not let success spoil him. Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars is a compelling blend of addictive beats, judicious samples, and guest vocals from artists ranging from hipster chanteuse Macy Gray to former P-Funk alien Bootsy Collins. The album is a veritable laundry list of musical styles, running the gamut from gospel to dub. It is hard to predict which of these tracks will be the next "Rockafella Skank," but it is a safe bet that we will be hearing from Gutter for months to come.