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Speedy J

The last time we heard from Speedy J, he had created an album called A Shocking Hobby, which was another logical step in the evolution of his sound after the somewhat abrasive and paranoid extremes of Public Energy #1. Offsetting almost industrial harsh moments with those of floating ambience, it continued down a path of somewhat paranoid electronic music and further away from the smooth electronic that he made a name for himself with in the mid-90's (on the classics Ginger and G Spot). An artist who's been on the scene now for almost 10 years, he shows no signs of slowing down with Loudboxer.

Actually, let me rephrase that a bit. With Loudboxer he has released his most dancefloor oriented album ever and has by all means actually sped up from anything he's ever done. Sure, there are still some subtle moments, but the majority of the 61 minutes on this release are filled with relentless, pounding beats. Stripped-down and banging, Loudboxer barely gives you time to breath.

Instead of rushing in full steam from the getgo, the album does at least have a fairly nice build up. The first third of the album jangles around at moments like a bass heavy Basic Channel release, with tracks like "Reenter" echoing out solitary blips and building in the layers around it, while "Cement" brings a beat in but keeps it just off kilter enough to keep things more heady than dancefloor. Things continue this way, slowly building up with rather friendly beats until the arrival of "Inter Zil." It's this short track that signals the change of things to come, and after a filtered spoken-word sample, the banging begins.

"Krekc" starts out the assault, slamming at over 140 BPM and layering on filters and synchopated beats as it reaches build after delirious build before dropping the lid on again. "Seventrack" follows it up with an even more relentless pace and more harsh filters, continuing the 4/4 romp for 8 more minutes before the beginning of "Bugmod" drifts off for a short reprise. Besides the short intervall of "Krikc (live)" (in which a live recording of the track drops much of the punch of the original), the disc simply keeps the pace until nearly the very end.

If you're a person who's been a fan of the last couple Speedy J albums, Loudboxer may throw you for a loop. While all of his albums have been mixed in a way that one track flows seamlessly into the next, this newest release has more of a mix-disc feel than anything he's ever done. After the build on the first quarter of the disc (in which beats are still dominant), the last three-quarters of the release hardly ever lets up. Fans of minimal, repetitive mixes and work by Jeff Mills and other similar artists will probably eat this up, as well as DJ's wanting to kick things up a notch. Musically, many of the tracks on the latter half of the release simply don't change that much, and for that reason it's a little hard to just pop in the player and sit down to listen to unless you're into repetitive, harsh electronic dance music. A surprising direction to see Speedy J go in (as it's much less adventurous than some of his previous work), it will probably win him some DJ followers, as well as those looking to fuel some serious aerobics.

Rating: 6.5