There's Gold In Them Thar Beats!

A two-CD set of drum & bass released at the start of a new millennium

raises some interesting questions. For one thing, is this the sound of

a generally vapid, historical musical period best left behind or, instead,

the harbinger of a brave new world for all of us music lovers? For another

(and on a lesser scale), what exactly is the home stereo purpose of a

two-CD set of what is essentially music suited for a communal environment?

How is the private listener to process music made to be consumed in public?

And then, of course, there's the whole postmodern cult-of-celebrity thing,

of which Goldie — in the UK, at least — is a prime example.

Admittedly, today's rock critic is expected to at least pay lip service

to music industry trends like drum & bass, lest he appear to be a dreadfully

unhip dinosaur. But I must admit that it would be less than totally candid

for me to, ahem, rave about this music. While I have, in the past, not

been oblivious to the charms, of say, Roni Size (whose track "The Calling"

[RealAudio

excerpt] appears here), I find that what I mainly experience when

listening to this music in a non-club environment is a frightening emotional

void — a feeling that this is impersonal, soulless music made for

an uninspired fin de millennium period that I, for one, prefer to

leave behind. (Of course, that might be hard to do, though, since most

TV and radio ads for sports programs, clothing stores and the like seem

to have this music rattling on in the background now.)

Just as, um, interesting as the music here are the booklet's extensive

verbiage and photos, which amount to a long advertisement for the mixmeister

of this set: Clifford Price, a.k.a. Goldie. Reading between the lines,

one realizes that here's a man whose main pursuit has been that of fame

for fame's sake; music was merely a vehicle to achieve it. And, having

arrived with 1995's Timeless, The Golden One makes it clear that

he's anxious to abandon that realm for a career in film ("I've done

everything I want to do in this music," he says in the set's liner notes).

Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that his sophomore effort,

the bloated, neo-prog-rock Saturnz Return, bombed big-time and that

he's already a laughing stock in the UK music biz — one rock mag

regularly ran a sarcastic "Goldie's Deep Thought of the Month" column.

Further blurring the line between art and commerce, we are left with this,

perhaps the most honest line of text in the entire document: "Goldie wears

Levi's slim fit trucker jacket (shiny dark) and Levi's 561 cinchback jeans

available through the original Levi's store network."

INCredible, indeed! But hey — jeans, music, it's all the same thing

in the end, right?

How very '90s.