Described as both “a party at Dan The Automator’s house” in the liner notes, and “a look inside my head”, by Dan himself, Wanna Buy A Monkey is the first mix CD from one of music’s busiest and most well-loved producers, covering everything from raw hip-hop to indy rock, and his own stuff that lands somewhere in between.
Originally touted as a mix made up exclusively of tracks produced by Dan, the end result is actually only half Automator ditties, and half of his favorites from others. Because The Automator is such a versatile producer – throughout his career lending beats to everyone from Ziggy Marley to Kool Keith to Depeche Mode to Black Rob - there is an overall schizophrenic feeling to Wanna Buy A Monkey. This could have been avoided somewhat if the disc actually was made up of strictly Automator produced tracks, but the dipping in and out of several different styles of music (as well as production), does falter the disc at times.
One of the main issues with this mix CD, is that along with the odd selection, the pacing seems to be haphazard as well. As any good DJ would tell you, it would only make sense to start with the mellower selections, building up to a climax of hype shit, but Wanna Buy A Monkey is all over the place, especially losing momentum mixing out Deltron 3030′s “Positive Contact” into Air’s “Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi”, and picking back up with more hardcore hip-hop as the disc closes out.
But let it be known there are some great moments on Automator’s debut mix CD. During act one, he breaks the door down with a few hip-hop party-starters, especially highlighted by an incredible, never-heard-before 10+ year old Black Rob cut, (“The Smoothness”), which he produced, that bangs today with the classic feeling of something from the days of K-Solo and 3rd Bass, which will sadden those who can’t stand his current Bad Boy material. Act two is set up beautifully by his remix of Air’s “Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi”, which provides an ill contrast of bangin’ hip-hop drums and one-two’s over Air’s mellow sounds. This continues into a wonderful cool-out session of Zero 7, Tortoise, & The Doves, which builds nicely into a beautiful blend of Lovage’s “Stroker Ace”. The third act, which delves back into hip-hop, is highlighted nicely by “The X-ecutioners Theme Song”, which shows yet another side of his talent behind the boards.
Because Automator’s taste is so diverse, so is this disc, which may or may not be to your liking. Its strongest moments lie when he is mixing his own production, and sometimes the lackluster or different production styles of others keep this mix from fusing together as one cohesive piece of music. While still providing listeners with a nice menu of his tastes, it may have fared better if he had stuck with one style of music throughout the disc (as best evidenced in act two), or if insistent on remaining eclectic, had used only songs that he had produced himself.
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