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Electro Techno Bam

We'll Never Stop Living This Way

Although you may have never heard his name before, Westbam is indeed a big name on the electronic music scene. Not only is he the co-founder of the annual Berlin "Love Parade" (where several million turned out last year to dance their collective azzes off). He also organized the Members Of Mayday parties (and produced the track "Sonic Empire" which made Members Of Mayday a big name all over) and DJs all over try to get in one the latest tracks that he's spinning. He's even written books on DJ culture and electronic music in general, just in case you were wondering. That's not something you can say about just any DJ or producer.

Having said all this, it's somewhat suprising to me anyway how few risks are actually taken with this debut album for Mute. While there are a few slamming tracks and the production overall is flawless, the techno tracks with a good injection of electro and old-school just don't seem as groundbreaking as I would have expected given the credentials. I mean, even the godfather of electro Afrika Bambaataa makes an appearence on the disc (in "Agharta, The City Of Shamballa"), but the collaboration isn't nearly as interesting as the dark and stunning track "Afrika Shox" that he made with Leftfield on their Rhythm And Stealth release.

The album bursts into action on the very first track, which is a flanged-out electro techno groove called "Terminator" that pulses along with a rather minimal rhythmic structure before an electric bass starts twanging in "Elektronische Tanzmuzik" and another simple and repetitive structure falls into place. On the third track, the styles come together and hit on all cylinders and it makes for one of the best listens on the release. With a huge beat and some well-timed synth bursts, it sounds like a bastard-child techno pump-up of an old Run DMC song (complete with b-boy samples), not too far off from Jason Nevin's remix of "It's Like That."

He keeps the strong tracks going with the next two songs as well. "Hanging With The Machineheads" adds a bit of grinding synths into the mix alongside the same big beat while "Sonic Empire" is a remake of the Members Of Mayday track mentioned above that still sounds every bit as classic as it did the first go around. The second half of the album unfortunately would run together quite a bit (especially with tracks like the almost unbearable "Crash Course") if it weren't for the slamming "Wanna Get My Smurf On" and the super old-school sounding "Beatbox Rocker" (that nonetheless will have you singing along with the growling vocals).

Overall, while there are some great tracks, the disc overall doesn't change up enough to give it the edge that I was expecting from Westbam. One of the funny things is that the album-titled track of "We'll Never Stop Living This Way" could be one of the first new-wave 80s sounding techno tracks I've ever heard. It's kitschy, but instead of having your grooving, it will probably unfortunately give you flashbacks of big hair and more spandex than you can shake a stick at. The album is a look back, but it just doesn't take enough looks forward.

Rating: 6.75