In a way, I hate amazingly-good-value cd sales. I end up coming home with piles and piles of stuff that I then don't have time to properly sort through. And despite the cheapness, I spend much more than I should due to the sheer volume of appealing stuff. Some recent unexpected bargains:
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (because it's a classic, maaaan!)
Super Furry Animals - Outspaced (psychedelic whimsy and raging buffoonery)
Todd Terry - A Day In The Life (formulaic, but oh my what a formula!)
Justice - The Greatest Hit (surprisingly excellent jazzy-jungle venture)
Prefab Sprout - Andromeda Heights (approaching irrelevance, but still shimmeringly perfect)
Spiritualised - Pure Phase (the missing link between Lazer-Guided mantra and Floating In Space manna? We'll see when I spin it)
Certificate 18 Presents - The Widescreen Versions (techno cognoscenti take on jungle fraternity)
Special mention must go to the Justice album, perhaps because I wasn't expecting that much from someone who runs a label called "Modern Urban Jazz". However, not only is The Greatest Hit generally closer to Spring Heel Jack than Alex Reece - widescreen technoid panoramas spiked with occasional terrifying/unnerving noises reminiscent of Source Direct, the "jazz" references being, if anything, to Herbie Hancock circa "Mwandishi" and "Crossings" rather than Giles Peterson - but the breaks are surprisingly impressive for a '99 release; as nuanced as Foul Play or Neil Trix, and as plushly produced as Adam F. It begins to pale towards the end, as Justice includes a remix of a track by the mediocre James Hardway and some of his own downtempo experiments, but the first half of the album contains some of the best "intelligent" drum & bass that I've heard in ages. Then again, I'm beginning to suspect that this is a retrospective release rather than an album proper, so maybe Justice has converted to 2-step-sax-and-rhodes-keyboards banality since then. Can anyone fill me in?
Also on the jungle tip, check out Plaid's awesome remix of "Relics", an old-skool track by Studio Pressure aka Photek on The Widescreen Versions. I always thought that "Relics", one of the first hardcore tracks to allow fragile beauty into the mix (as well as presaging the xylophone craze in UK Garage), was severely overlooked in the rush to acclaim Rupert Parkes' later releases. Plaid recognise its potential though, and expand upon it, producing an otherworldly epic that still retains the original's kinetic impulses.