Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance Music (Rhino)
Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., May 19, 2000
Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance Music
(Rhino)If for no other reason than to have the single greatest party CD of the new millennium (so far), this 2-CD set from Rhino is indispensible. Twenty-eight tracks tracing the evolution of electronica from the man-machine music of Kraftwerk's "The Robots" to Brian "BT" Transeau's "Godspeed," this is the most comprehensive and accessible attempt at tracing the lineage of electronic music (since the Seventies, anyway) yet delivered. The expansive liner notes by NYC producer Johan Kugelberg admit there's no feasible way to include everything that serves as a DJ/programmer milestone these days, and to this end, he covers much in words that's absent on the two discs themselves; from Lev Theremin to Pierre Schaeffer, John Cage, and Raymond Scott, the mini-essay encompasses the history of the world's most popular current musical form. As for the discs themselves, it's hardly exaggerating to say that this is the party people's party album. Where else are you going to find the genius and seminal Giorgio Moroder/Donna Summer disco masterpiece "I Feel Love" back-to-back with Sparks' "The Number One Song in Heaven?" K-Tel, eat your heart out. Other standout tracks (if such a thing exists on compilations of this sort, and frankly, it all comes down to a question of taste) are Throbbing Gristle's "Adrenalin," merry pranksters the Shamen's "Move Any Mountain," and L.A. Style's techno-annoyance "James Brown Is Dead." Electronica has consistently come up short on these shores, but Rhino's brilliant comp is a sign that, at the very least, things are progressing nicely.