The beat thumps on unwaveringly until, with no pause, no warning, you notice it’s morphed into the altered groove of a completely different track – which will eventually be overtaken by yet another undulating number. And on and on and on. It’s the realm of the dance-mix tape, a world that in the last few years has ventured beyond the club DJ booths (and concomitant bootlegs) into record stores, via legit albums by groove-savvy electronica acts.
The discs serve two equally valuable purposes: They allow the DJs to show off their turntable skills while permitting the public to purchase a ready-made, nonstop album for the party in their club, home, or head. The latter seems particularly appropriate in the immediate-gratification world of e-commerce and MP3 downloads: Why expend energy making a compilation tape when you can just buy one?
The latest installment of the series ”On the Floor at the Boutique” is relatively straightforward: a ceaseless stream of more-or-less unaltered techno and R&B obscurities that segue into each other. The ”Boutique” collections, named after the Brighton, England, club night that’s home to seaside sleaze and big-beat techno, kicked off in ‘98 with a soul-drenched set by Fatboy Slim; this time, techno-punks Lo-Fidelity Allstars step up to the booth.
Much like big beat itself, the Lo-Fis’ parade of tunes is bustling and unsubtle, lurching from the vintage hip-hop of Boogie Down Productions and the Jungle Brothers to R&B jewels by the Tams and Felice Taylor. At its most enlightening – the swoop from the old-school robofunk of Humanoid’s ”Stakker Humanoid” to the manic rap preaching of Silver Bullet’s ”20 Seconds to Comply,” for one – the album ebulliently links past, present, and future. But its hip-hop-skip-and-a-beat jumble can induce headaches in the confines of the home. B