Friday, August 15, 2008

Cosmic Rocker's Action Breaks EP is a foundation for any downtempo mix

Cosmic Rocker has proven his talent as a mix artist – easily handling dancers and loungers night after night in New York’ premier clubs and Europe’s smoky discos. DJ Sasha Crnobrnja is Cosmic Rocker, and he likes to party. Cosmic Rocker produces simple samples that are meant to be layered and mixed and mashed and danced to. His latest Action Breaks EP siphons his live aesthetic into a downtempo display that aims to entertain but works best as background groove.

As a DJ in Switzerland’s Go-Global outfit, he brought musicians and DJs together in music battles at local clubs. This idea morphed into the Organic Grooves project in New York, of which Cosmic Rocker is a founding member. For more than a decade, Organic Grooves has introduced world artists and DJs to each other to collaborate and mash global sounds and styles.

On Action Breaks, Cosmic Rocker removes himself from the experimentation of Go-Global or Organic Grooves and delivers stripped downtempo tracks.

I saddle up to Action Breaks and order a drink. I want a mixed one with a solid foundation and a sweet kick that rolls to an even different aftertaste. Give me an experience. What I get from Action Breaks is tonic. I get the foundation, but not the nuance that would set this album apart. One of the first tracks, literally called “Tonic,” begins with a fast jazzy drum rhythm, then adds a bass beat that never wavers from its foundation. Think of Kruder & Dorfmeister and Chemical Brothers tracks, and then remove the quirks that set them apart. And that’s what you get – a “Tonic” on the rocks, but not the G&T you ordered.

Cosmic Rocker does produce some grooves we know he can deliver. “Fred on Drums” takes listeners back to Cosmic Rocker’s formative years. He started with the drums and he’ll end with the drums. “Fred” kicks in with a head bobbing snare beat and adds layers of interesting samples. Every so often we get a jolt of something new and we want to keep listening. “Electric Hair Dub” gives us dark synth samples and a dubbed drum beat – it’s like listening to Bob Marley while dancing to muted house music.

Action Breaks is good for a crowded party or trendy bar where people aren’t paying attention to the music. When listening is an integral part of the experience, Action Breaks can’t always manipulate the vibe. Listen to Action Breaks as a foundation for mixes if you’re a DJ. Or listen to “Fred on Drums” and “Electric Hair Dub” for leisure. Action Breaks isn’t for straight consumption or on the rocks. Cosmic Rocker is a drink best served shaken, stirred, mixed and muddled.

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