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DJ Icey: Different Day

Tom White

Dj Icey

Different Day

Label: System Recordings
US Release Date: 2003-03-11
UK Release Date: Available as import

DJ Icey is apparently a thoroughly busy man. He performs his DJ antics at a whopping 150 gigs a year in an attempt to spread the breakbeat/house gospel to the dance-loving masses. So, with all this experience within the popular dance music arena, it would be reasonable to assume he could be capable of producing an engaging and innovative solo release. This couldn't be further from the truth. As will be seen, this latest offering is as monotonously dull and uneventful as it is soulless and lifeless.

Originally born in Orlando, DJ Icey has emerged as one of the leading American dance DJs, at least in terms of popularity. He gained a reasonable amount of publicity by signing to ffrr, the label owned by radio 1 DJ and A&R kingpin Pete Tong, and was commissioned to produce one of the many Essential Mix compilations that seem to be surrounded with a certain amount of kudos in the dance music scene. In fact, it was greeted with great acclaim, as Icey was able to show off what are obviously decent DJ skills to the maximum.

It is no small wonder that a man who spends a great deal of time on the road actually DJing has difficultly in constructing a rich and challenging record due to simple time constraints. Let's first establish that this is not the dance record to re-ignite the breakbeat/house scene by any stretch of the imagination. Indeed, the very lack of any inventive production values makes this release sound surprisingly backward and distinctly sparse and unaccomplished.

Different Day is the innovative title chosen to showcase Icey's latest studio efforts. Without seeming too harsh, the album is generally an exercise in showing how music can be bludgeoned to death with the aid of nauseatingly repetitive breakbeats coupled with the interspersion of genuinely annoying samples and actual noises.

Different Day kicks off accessibly enough with two vocally enhanced tracks, "Different Day" and "Searching". But they fail to gain any real momentum and bask in the full glory of depressing, sub-Moby, corporate ad-esque drivel. However, it gets a hell of a lot worse. The conspicuous breaks and beeps that suffocate the next tracks, such as "Naïve Journey" and the oh-so-inventively titled, "The Future", really bring nothing to the genre and possess little if no melody. Perhaps fans would argue that this is great on the dance floor, and I wouldn't necessarily argue with them. For instance, "Freaks in the House" ups the tempo slightly and uses a killer base line that could get a crowd moving, but it makes for appalling bedroom listening.

One of the only tracks that achieves a moderate amount of interest is the disco-funk of "A Little Bit Louder", employing repetitive, yet not too annoying, synthesised vocals, sparse horns, and strings that do seem to combine to get fingers tapping and heads nodding. The only other track that grabs your attention is the chilled-out, synth-string drenched "Electro Morning MMIII". It comes as a welcome break at the end of the album of incessant breakbeat and bass assault that precedes it. But it's not great by any stretch of the imagination.

I think it's been made utterly and unequivocally clear. I don't like this record at all. In fact, I think it's one of the least appealing dance records I've had the misfortune of listening to and reviewing. Icey should stick to spinning other peoples' music; he obviously hasn't yet developed the necessary attributes to produce music that can be appreciated both on the dance-floor and in the bedroom. If you are absolutely desperate to get hold of something in the breakbeat genre, you couldn't go far wrong by picking up a copy of the excellent Movement in Still Life by BT. It features some classic dance-floor hits and shows how melody can be effectively blended to produce a multi-dimensional dance-release. Different Day, unfortunately, does not.

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