Half 'n' half

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What’s a poorrecord-buyer to do? Half the tracks on this CD are disposable and a handful are sublime. The highlight of the CD is the concluding crescendo of two previously released tracks, "At Les" and "Bug in the Bassbin," further adding to the buyers’ dilemma.

This release has been much anticipated, mostly on the expectation that Carl Craig would be able to build on the sound of "Bug." Originally released in the early ’90s, "Bug" is one of the most important precursors of jungle. And if that weren’t enough, when Craig released the updated version that shows up on this CD two years ago, and spent a year performing with live jazz musicians, expectations only went higher.

But working out that one track’s promise of greatness has proved elusive. The first seven tracks of the CD sound less like a creative juxtaposing of contrapuntal rhythms and more like a mad-sound science experiment that doesn’t gel. And although the buzz on Craig’s Innerzone project has always centered on jazz, it’s hip hop that seems to be the ghost behind the first half of this release.

Discounting the aforementioned "Bug in the Bassbin" and "At Les" (which you should really own by now anyway, dammit!), the real work of Programmed rests in the close quarters of four sequential tracks: "Architecture" (recorded with Richie Hawtin), "Basic Math," "Timing" and "Galaxy." These four tracks really do work out some of the promissory material of the techno-jazz mindmeld, and although they don’t quite deliver the same unstoppable, unquantifiable groove that "Bug" delivers, within the sequence of Programmed they do build up admirably to that revelatory insight.

Four very good new tracks. What’s the poor record-buyer to do? Maybe wait for the 12-inch.

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