[5 July 2007]
The computer game companies are still playing with relatively minor league artists in terms of custom-made soundtracks, but for Nintendo Wii’s SSX Blur Junkie XL is as good a choice as any. The retro-influenced Dutch electronica craftsman will never outdo “A Little Less Conversation”, but as a soundtrack to a dirtbike video game his boisterous, shallow compositions have a certain appropriateness. The disc doesn’t stand on its own, though; a tour through a couple of tracks alone seems like a jolting journey through a thousand different songs – thematic elements rarely stay for more than two measures, and instruments, melodies and textures are abandoned just as soon as they are dropped into the mix. “Dark Territory” is the most extreme example of this, while other tracks achieve a sight more coherence. The best songs, while not especially groundbreaking, exude an air of easy open-hearted joy – “Cortina D’Ampezzo and “A 51”, for instance – and they sound like Lemon Jelly with ADD. But many of the tracks have a similar, chugging percussion figure (which is also remarkably similar to “A Little Less Conversation”), and the repetition becomes a little monotonous. “Show Park” is what the concept could have been if Junkie XL had more of an album in mind – more slowly building up over shimmering guitar figures, it is patient and pleasant. Still, if you heard Music from SSX Blur in context, you wouldn’t have any complaints.