Music News

Various Artists

Santa Monica-based Moonshine Records (Moonshine Creative Media LLC, in new-millennium speak) has engaged consumers of electronic music with varying degrees of success during its decade-long history. Like veteran imprints Eightball, Strictly Rhythm and Cleopatra -- indie outlets servicing dance/ alternative-music formats -- Moonshine seemed to lose its focus on quality electronica in the mid-'90s as it struggled to maintain itself financially in the face of major-label interest in its niche market. But now that 21st-century musical tastes are firmly in line with its catalogue, the label appears to be re-establishing the critically acclaimed rep it earned among tech-heads and ravers in the early '90s, as evidenced by this creative new twofold offering.

The two-volume @home compilation -- assembled by Moonshine executive producer Steve Levy -- streets September 25 in @sunset and @sunrise editions designed to bookend a night out at the club with chill-room tunes. The former kicks off its more vocal-oriented set with Trumpet Thing's "Need You Right Now (Ambient Mix)," which blends Spanish guitar and trumpet with instrumental keyboard washes. Melancholy idol Billie Holiday follows immediately after, courtesy of a "God Bless the Child" sample pasted into "The Child," by Parisian whiz kid Alex Gopher. INXS's "Never Tear Us Apart" gets the same treatment in Tall Paul's "Precious Heart" before @sunset queues up Miro's Morcheeba-like "By Your Side." De-Phazz, featuring Pat Appleton, provides the only fiesta spike on the disc with "The Mambo Craze," while Freshmaka's cover of Neil Young's "Lotta Love" drops the only funk-flavored tune on either comp.

But @sunrise shows off the series' most extraordinary tracks, opening with 3 Drives' recent trance classic "Greece 2000 (Moonwatcher's of the Sea of Tranquility Remix)" mellowed out with a lunar ambience. Immediately following is Moby's "Go (In Dub Mix)," the 1991 techno track that established the Manhattan producer's credentials; remixers Jam & Spoon replace the "Laura Palmer's Theme" samples with a Jamaican electronic rhythm bed to slow the track down. Goldfrapp -- the band du jour for electro hipsters everywhere -- contributes the gothic spaghetti-Western sound of "Paperbag" before the disc segues into DJ Food's surprisingly perky, clarinet-driven "The Crow." And seasoned Warp Records unit Sabres of Paradise uses "Smoke" as an homage to '80s-era synth pop while the incredible drum-and-bass mix of Mandalay's "Beautiful" demonstrates why the U.K. duo is making a stateside splash with a three-year-old recording. Finishing off this morningside mix, @sunrise moves into the cathedral soundscapes of BBE's Giorgio Moroder knockoff, "Seven Days and One Week (Sindaar remix)," and Energy 52's "Café del Mar (Michael Woods Remix)," a nod to Jose Padilla, the DJ who popularized the lush tunes from trance capital Ibiza in the first place. Both discs are dead-on captures of down-tempo electronica that live up to their packaging, taking listeners up before a night on the town and then bringing them back down.

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Kelly Lemieux