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Paul Oakenfold

Swordfish: The Album

Format: CD   Release Date: 06/05/2001
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The much-hyped Swordfish soundtrack signals a questionable return to the studio for longtime dance superstar Paul Oakenfold. Granted, Oakenfold had done a few remixes here and there during the mid- to late '90s, but for the greater part of the '90s he funneled his efforts into his gigantic DJing persona and his fledging Perfecto label. Not since the late '80s/early '90s when he produced and remixed tracks for the likes of the Happy Mondays, the Cure, U2, and New Order had Oakenfold displayed more than a passing interest in studio work. Of course, there's also the longtime debate over that work, with many proposing that Steve Osborne was in fact the primary brains behind those classic productions. No matter how you look at it, more than a few people were looking at this soundtrack with a skeptical eye, wondering if Oakenfold's production and remixing talents were still relevant in 2001. After all, the man had never fared too well with critics, and was unabashedly despised by much of the American techno/house community. In the end, his efforts on Swordfish are true to his early-2000s progressive trance aesthetic. While other late-'90s trance superstars such as John Digweed were found shying away from the suddenly passé sound in the early 2000s, Oakenfold embraces it here. In fact, he even goes as far as transforming "Planet Rock" into a seven-minute breakbeat trance anthem -- something that would be considered downright blasphemous in many circles. It's fairly apparent Oakenfold isn't trying to convert his critics with this album; he's giving his fans what they want, and that's in-your-face, adrenaline-inducing progressive trance. Most of the tracks here are collaborations with Andy Gray, with Oakenfold doing none of the production or remixing work on his own. Besides the "Planet Rock" remix, a remix of NERD's "Lapdance" is notable, but in the end, nothing here is that exceptional besides "Get Out of My Life" and "Unafraid," two vocal tunes that integrate a conventional pop song template. In short, this album isn't going to change anyone's view of Oakenfold. If you're an advocate, you'll feast; if you're a critic, don't bother. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi

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