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Various Artists

Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance Music

Release Date: 03/14/2000
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Price: $31.98 $26.98

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An effective compilation of electronic pop with a narrow scope and an overly safe track listing but with plenty of highlights, Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance sets out to cover the goal stated in the title. As such, the two-disc set begins with the logical choice: Kraftwerk. From there, the album moves into disco (the Giorgio Moroder-produced "I Feel Love" by Donna Summer), synth-pop (Sparks, OMD, Gary Numan), industrial electronics (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire), electro (Afrika Bambaataa, Newcleus), and Detroit techno (Juan Atkins' Cybotron, Derrick May's Rythim Is Rythim, Kevin Saunderson's Inner City). Moving seamlessly from electronic progenitors to the rave-era explosion, Machine Soul continues on the second disc with sampladelic and acid-house anthems from M/A/R/R/S, the KLF, the Orb, the Shamen, and Moby before hitting electronica with Prodigy, Underworld, and the Chemical Brothers, then ending with epic trance producers Paul Van Dyk and BT. The journey takes over two hours, but the Machine Soul odyssey presents an unfailingly straight line from the early '70s to the end of the century, with no speedbumps or problems with weak licensing (for the latter, thank Rhino's corporate cousin, Time/Warner). For listeners unfamiliar with the genre, caveats here are practically non-existent. A few electronic-dance fans, however, may quibble with the direction of the compilation; practically every track here is led by vocals, whereas the vast majority of electronic-dance tracks have none. And given a style that focuses so much on the underground, the compilers would have been wise to insert tracks from at least one or two recent independent producers. Besides focusing on the "soul" of the "machine" rather than the reverse, Machine Soul is an excellent definition of the genre. ~ John Bush, Rovi

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