Perhaps one of the most well known names in the DJ biz, Carl Cox is well known for embracing various styles throughout his long career - starting with acid house raves in the late 80s, eventually evolving into the popular house, techno and trance DJ he's become known for. As a producer he made his name with his first two album releases, 1996's At The End OF The Cliche and 1999's Phuture 2000 both released on his own Worldwide Ultimatum Record label. 2005 sees the release of his third artist album, Second Sign released on his new label 23rd Century recordings - an appropriate title for a record label cementing Carl's constant outlook to the future. Second Sign is actually put together like a mix CD and features many collaborative works with highly acclaimed producers such as Norman Cook, Misstress Barbara, Josh Wink, techno legend Kevin Saunderson and Bristol drum'n'bass don Roni Size.
Norman Cook and Carl are the first to pair up with the drum friendly That's The Bass featured here as Cox's Rock Drums Mix where he makes use of a heavy rocking drum break and Fatboy Slim style bassline and vocal loops. The album then moves onto summery vocal house with Give Me Your Love featuring the vocals of Hannah Robinson who sings atop a upbeat latin house groove laden with Spanish guitar and soul claps. 80s British Jazz Funk Soul group, Light Of The World provide the vocals for the discoey Feel The Real bringing back vocal phrases that have been used in many house tunes. In typical 80's funk style, Carl backs them up with funky horn arrangments and disco guitar licks. House producers Phats & Small provide a funky tribal of If I Fall (Would You Let Me?) which feature the vocals of Reprazent vocalist Onallee, who is transformed from the urban soulstress into a house diva.
The album moves into techno with On Fire co-produced with Misstress Barbara. The tune incorporates a melodic electro bassline and a quirky synth loop much in the style of the Misstress herself before bringing back the funk on the bassline groovin' Ain't It Funky Now? - check the wicked horn sample which is reminiscent in some ways of that old Bucketheads track from 1994. Dirty Bass with Christian Smith is exactly that - 3 different basslines throughout the duration of the tune, all morphing in styles, yet all very dirty.
Valentino Kanzyani presents an Earresistable mix of Give Me Your Love porting it to the world of slamming dancefloor techno while putting Hannah's vocals through various filters and effects as Valentino lays down a massive synth hook and percussive break. Surprsingly enough, Roni Size does not pull a drum'n'bass rabbit out of his hat for this album, instead he and Carl lay down a funky percussive rhythm combined with a jazzy bassline (very reminiscent to the one used in Brown Paper Bag) while Onnalee delivers a combination of sung vocals and philosophical spoken word.
To finish, the album turns up the tempo kicking off with the goth-rock-meets-drum'n'bass of Got What You Paid For and closing the curtains with a latin drum'n'bass version of If I Fall (Would You Let Me?) with a fuller vocal effort by Onnalee.
What's awesome about Second Sign is that each tune flows very nicely into the next one which is pretty easy since it is presented as a continuous CD. Most mix CD's aren't this coherent and as enjoyable to listen to - it definitely takes a DJ with the experience and versatility that Carl has to be able to pull it off properly.
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