In 1995, two bright young producers released their first solo projects: DJ Spooky's Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Ryan Moore's Twilight Circus in Dub Vol. 1. On one hand, these records -- and the artists' subsequent career tracks -- bear little resemblance to each other. Spooky's highly conceptual Dreamer drew on the sounds of New York's underground scene, blending elements of funk, hip-hop, dark drum 'n' bass, and ambient abstractions, which propelled him to briefly enjoyed "It" status among NYC's digital intellectuals. Moore's obsessions, meanwhile, lay in classic Jamaican dub, with a predilection for heavy subsonic bass, echo, and reverb. His reputation has built up more gradually, and he honed his skills in a secluded studio on a farm in Holland.
But despite these differences, both artists also share a mutual flair for densely layered, swirling, and moody rhythms -- traits that make their first collaboration, Riddim Clash, a natural fit. The rhythms here are dense and somewhat free-flowing (alternating between the murky bass of cuts like "Heavyweight Style" and the more sprightly Jamaican-style keyboard harmonies of "Phase Anansi"), but there's always good give-and-take between the two producers. Spooky's biggest weakness has always been his ambitious but meandering albums; here, the dub theme keeps him grounded. Meanwhile, Moore operates only in pure dub, so it's nice to see him venture outside his element. As the saying goes, when two sounds go to war, only one gets to wear the crown. This one might be too close to call.
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