Personnel: Greg "Stryke" Chin, Jennifer Carbonell, Kristine W., Tamara Wallace (vocals).
Audio Mixers: Oscar Gaetan; Ralph Falcon.
Arguably, Oscar Gaetan & Ralph Falcon -- collectively known as Murk -- have been to '90s and 2000s dance/club music what Dr. Dre has been to West Coast hip-hop: producer/writers who have one eye on the mainstream and the other on the underground. They won't be mistaken for the ultra-slick Stock, Aitken and Waterman team, but they don't confine themselves to rave music's lunatic fringe either. A nonstop 65-minute dance/club mix that Murk provided for Tommy Boy in 2003, this self-titled release is a rewarding example of their ability to balance mainstream and underground considerations. This mix is about the beat, but it's also about vocal personality -- and that certainly sets it apart from the totally underground dance collections that are strictly for the rave crowd. Gaetan & Falcon get the CD off to a very accessible start with the familiar "Some Lovin'," which features singer Kristine W., and favors a conventional verse/chorus/verse/chorus song structure. And they continue in that vein whether they're featuring Greg "Stryke" Chin on "Time," Jennifer Carbonell on "Doesn't Really Matter," or Tamara Wallace (of Funky Green Dogs fame) on "True" and "Believe." But things take a more underground turn toward the end of the CD with tunes like "Afro-Cuba" and "Baba-Sulei," which aren't as accessible by pop standards. In a sense, hearing this CD is like attending a concert by a mildly avant-garde jazz musician who has an inside/outside perspective -- the sort of improviser who might pull you in with an inviting Duke Ellington melody before going on to challenge you with some free-form outside playing. For Murk, an hour-plus dance mix is all about timing and pacing -- and their pacing is excellent on this captivating release. ~ Alex Henderson