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Junkie XL – Today

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Junkie XL – Today

Junkie XL - Today

Ultra Records

Rather than the Big Beat flavor of his blockbuster remix for Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation," Junkie XL (a.k.a. Tom Holkenborg) seems to be channeling some of the great Modern Rock groups of the 1980s on his "Today" CD by fusing four-to-the-floor dance beats and pumping bass lines with layers of spidery strummed guitar work. Joining Holkenborg on the album is newcomer Nathan Mader who adds his strong yet plaintive vocals to more than half the tracks on this set. Mader's contributions shine brightly on uptempo selections like "Youthful" and the soaring "Today" where he is placed amongst throbbing backbeats and dizzily guitar strummed arrangements that hypnotically descend and meld into the layered rhythm tracks, as well as on the melancholy midtempo "Drift Away" or the gently driving "Yesterdays." Intermixed amongst the vocal cuts are instrumentals like the dancefloor-friendly "Such A Tease" and "Mushroom" or the breezily flowing "I Have Got A Xerox To Copy" where the focus on keeping the guitar work as prominent as the keyboards and drum patterns further harkens back to musical trendsetters like Joy Division, New Order, or The Cure.

And while the album starts out with a number of songs that could easily head right to the club charts in their current form, by the end of this CD Holkenborg drops the pace dramatically with the beautifully atmospheric, beatless track "Honey," filled with twinkling chiming keyboards and soft violins that then leads to the album's curtain call, the minimally downtempo "We" where Mader's distorted vocals add a slight dissonance to the delicately poignant composition. All the way through, "Today" is a fascinating and expressive album that finds Junkie XL able to evoke some of the musical emotions of past while still staying solidly current and thus moving expertly towards the future.

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