Drum & Bass Demigod

An energetic blend of hip-hop, techno, jazz and funk.

The thing that people tend to like about drum & bass is how sneakily it keeps

you on the dance floor. It is, after all, just a little too fast for

comfort, but somehow it coerces you into staying on for just one more. The

thing that rock critics — at least American ones — like about drum &

bass is, naturally, completely different. They embraced the form as something

more than just club music after Roni Size's New Forms won the Mercury

Prize in the U.K. Here was dance music that wasn't just repetitive bleeps and

beats with diva melodies thrown on top. There was something really involving

about Size's jazz hybrid, and later with Photek's "X Files"-worthy

paranoia-grooves. Even now, Breakbeat Era — another Size-masterminded

project — is wowing listeners with their dark drum & bass songs and a

blistering live show.

Aphrodite, on the other hand, would rather light a candle than curse the

darkness. A DJ since 1988, Gavin King, a.k.a. Aphrodite, practices a more

dance-floor-friendly version of the subgenre, and on his debut LP — which

mixes some familiar 12-inch tracks with new material — he's out to make a

name for himself as the good-time drum & bassist.

Indeed, he's even sometimes known as the Fatboy Slim of drum & bass,

presumably because his work is fast, energetic and essentially substanceless,

beats and bleeps piled high. On the dance floor it's likely a heady brew, lots

of quick change-ups and simple refrains over frenetic drumlines. But on disc,

even turned up ear-blisteringly high on your headphones, it's somewhat less

than compelling.

There are surprising touches here and there, like a clever reuse of a

familiar riff from "For the Love of Money" on "B.M. Funkster." Aphrodite

gives Quincy Jones' "Summer in the City" another once-over — you

might remember it from a Pharcyde tune — on "Rincing Quince (slider

mix)" (RealAudio

excerpt). Throw in some Jungle Brothers samples (on "Woman that

Rolls" [RealAudio

excerpt]) or something like a cover of Seals and Croft's "Summer

Breeze" (RealAudio

excerpt), and you got yourself a party.

The great thing about a party, though, is that there's usually something to do

other than just listen to the music. Aphrodite's debut won't do much more than

hold people to the dance floor, but it does that capably and energetically.

Without the distraction of people dancing around you, though, it probably

won't hold your attention.