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Thompson's efforts were recorded during two comparatively sedate days spent holed up in a Los Angeles hotel. The gonzo scribe has a well-documented fondness for narcotics gobbling and random excess, but Oakenfold says, "We didn't go down that road." Instead, Thompson shared thoughts about Richard Nixon and his "ugly Nazi experiments," declaring over a semi-ambient backdrop that "Nixon's spirit will be with us for the rest of our lives, whether you are me or Bill Clinton or you or Kurt Cobain or Bishop Tutu or Keith Richards or Amy Fisher or Boris Yeltsin's daughter or her fiancé's sixteen-year-old beer-drunk brother with his braided goatee, with his whole life like a thunder cloud right in front of him."

What's any of that mean to Oakenfold's followers, many of whom were born long after Nixon faded into ignominy? "For me, it represents the American dream," Oakenfold says. "Everyone has dreams, and the younger you are, the more you think you can fulfill your dreams. The older you get, the harder it is, because generally you kind of give up. So that's what I really took from the experience, not the specifics of the dialogue that he said."

As for "Starry Eyed Surprise," it's a lightweight romp that's as catchy as it is mindless. But Oakenfold makes no apologies for it. "I wanted to make a fun summer record, and that's what it is -- and that's all it is. Whereas the Hunter Thompson song is a self-indulgent piece of music, 'Starry Eyed Surprise' is just a fun piece of music. You shouldn't take it that seriously."

This advice extends to Bunkka as a whole. Those who come to the album expecting Oakenfold trademarks, such as an incredible number of beats per minute, will most likely despise it. But folks who bring no baggage with them will probably find the disc quite listenable, if not terribly memorable. Moby doesn't have anything to worry about just yet.

In the meantime, Oakenfold is readying his upcoming tour, on which he'll mix, spin, play keyboards and lead a band supplemented by video representations of the singers on Bunkka. "Obviously, you can't take all these singers on the road -- it would cost too much money," he says. "The idea is to give people a visual experience, and also to let people hear the music. It's an interesting concept; I hope it works."

Even if it does, Oakenfold expects a certain amount of resistance from some quarters. But he promises to keep pushing forward.

"A few people have said to me, 'Why are you trying to move on? Isn't it enough to be a DJ?' But you just have to stand up as an artist. I didn't see the point of making an instrumental album with no melody, no soul. I truly wanted to do something else, and that's what I did. But it's hard sometimes, because people want you to be what they expect you to be."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts