Various Artists

Opening with what sounds vaguely like a Timbaland remix of “I Am the Walrus” and ending with something like a Wu-Tang-style reimagining of “Dear Prudence,” Constant Elevation promises more than the typical DJ compilation. Yet for all its imaginative approaches, it’s the collection’s clarity of vision that distinguishes it from most turntablist efforts.

Constant Elevation flashes back to 1989, right before hip-hop ditched frenetic, eclectic mixes to pursue gangsta funk and spooky piano-looped minimalism. Featuring prominent, lyrical figures on guitar and cello, This Kid Named Miles’ jazzy “Slight Amnesia” sounds like Stetsasonic set loose with today’s technology. Z-Trip takes the mix to another level with bubbly bass, big crashing beats, frantic bongos and explosive sound washes. Peanut Butter Wolf and Madlib’s “Rawcore” climaxes with dueling scratches by DJ Egon and DJ Romes, then collapses into a delicate cooldown.

Despite the busy mixes, these tracks all build on a relaxed central groove. The pacing is deliberate without ever losing intensity, and there’s a lesson to be learned here for hyper-BPM freaks: It’s focus, not flash, that satisfies.

Categories: Music