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Weird, Wacky Mix

The Prodigy (Presents)
The Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One
(XL/Beggars Banquet)

I've heard a lot of damn mix discs over the course of my life of buying music and reviewing it. I must say that perhaps save different releases by Mix Master Mike and the Invisible Skratch Pikl posse, Dirtchamber Sessions Volume One is the weirdest one that I've ever heard. It's not weird in that it cuts up the sound a lot like the above artists, but the disc definitely has one of the shortest attention spans I've ever heard (busting through about 30 or more different tracks in the course of only 50 minutes or so). The strange thing about the disc is the HUGE variety of music that's on the disc. While it's a "file under Prodigy" release, the work on this thing is all done by Liam Howlett, and in putting together a mix of his favorite songs, he's gone all over the board.

Another thing about the disc that sort of makes it stand out from the pack is that it is definitely a studio job. While someone perhaps with nimble hands and a very good use of a sampler could pull off something resembling it, they'd probably need about 4 different arms to keep up with the rapid-fire changes and weird mixes that Howlett is able to pull off by dinking around in his bedroom.

To give you an idea of just how eclectic this disc is, it's broken up into 8 different segments (with each of them ranging from 5 to 8 or so minutes each) and musical genres that it flys through includes hip-hop, electro, punk, rap, techno, alternative, brit-rock, and who knows what else. In the first segment alone, he mixes through chunks of peers the Chemical Brothers, Hardnoise, and the Ultramagnetic MC's (in which he plays the same bit from "Give The Drummer Some" which the Prodigy sample for "Smack My Bitch Up."). The second track is even more wild with The Charlatans (quite possibly the coolest segment on the disc), Grandmaster Flash, and Janes Addiction. It's all very strange, going from big, old-school hip-hop beats to bumping distortion and guitars.

If you thought it was weird there, just wait until the flamenco guitars of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican" kick in. From the classic-rock sounds of that track, he mixes right into the B-Boys before tearing into a new track and the classic "Hey, Hey, Can You Relate" by DJ Mink. Basically, it's all over the board, but it's also quite fun. Howlett manages to keep fairly fast (or at least darn loud) beats going nearly all the time, and he even manages to squeeze in tracks by the likes of the Beastie Boys, The Propellerheads, LL Cool J, KLF, Public Enemy, Meat Beat Manifesto, Coldcut, Primal Scream, Fatboy Slim, and the Sex Pistols by the end of the thing.

Like I said before, this is one strange mix disc, and although it might not be the best for fueling dancing until the break of dawn, it is a great disc to just sit down and listen to and hear tons of classic and modern tracks mixed together in all kinds of weird combinations. Not only that, but it makes it a little easier to understand why Prodigy records (especially Music For The Jilted Generation) seem to have so darn many influences. It's because the main guy behind the album is mashing up songs like this mix in his head and trying to come up with something new based on it all. It may not appeal to all Prodigy fans, but it will at least give them an idea of what came before them. That, and it's a darn interesting mix.

Rating: 7.5