As DJ culture continues to establish a greater beachhead in the U.S., there are still distinct parts of its collective personality that Americans seem wont to consciously embrace specifically, the disc jockey as curator and librarian. That's unfortunate, since energizing the nation's dance-floors and/or producing pop recordings that expand the top-40 vocabulary isn't all DJs have to offer the music community. Many spend their waking hours hunting high and low for musical esoterica that'd otherwise be relegated to history's sonic dustbins or recontextualizing records thought to be long over. They've also been known to collect such random gems together to create mix-tape-style CDs that carry unique aesthetic flavors, defining personal DJ styles (well-evidenced in Studio K7!'s excellent DJ Kicks series) that, contrary to what most people think, rarely, if ever, touch upon icy electronic music.
Jet Society is just such a collection. Compiled by lounge funk gurus the Thievery Corporation, it clarifies the sort of international groove society sound they've tried to establish at their Washington, D.C., nightspot (and label), Eighteenth Street Lounge. On a purely visceral level, the album presents a set of current obscurities from around the world that are filled with luscious jazzy melodies, batucada beats and language barriers galore and what participant of any club culture doesn't want a mix full of great songs few have heard of, or heard at all?
The musical base for Jet Society (and to some degree for Thievery's own work) stems from interpretations of Brazilian rhythms. From Italian producer Nicola Conte's shagadelic, bossa nova update "Bossa Per Due," (RealAudio excerpt) to the French house production team Yellow's lite dance-floor-ready remix of Tom Y Joyce's cooing "Vai Minha Tristeza," to Grupo Batuque's fierce batucada-breathing breakdown "Brasileiros e Ingleses (No Comment mix)," samba is unquestionably this collection's dominant flavor. But the Corporation carries other tastes as well lightly simmering acid-jazz funk from Norway (Bobby Hughes Experience's "Seasons" (RealAudio excerpt), a pinch of the modern-day French pop continuum (Louise Vertigo's "La Femme Fin de Siecle") and dubby downbeat lounge smoke from Germany (Mo' Horizon's "Foto Viva" [RealAudio excerpt]).
Conceived by people who approach world music with wide-eyed wonder and fascination, Jet Society is clearly meant to evoke the sonic tapestry of a global village. That Thievery Corporation and others like them seek to share that wonder with us is yet another positive attribute of the new DJ World Order.