Judge Jules: The Global Warm-Up Mix CD

My word—this release boasts perhaps the lamest cover I've seen in eons, with a photo of Judge Jules' smiling, slack-jawed face plopped in front of a raving outdoor crowd. The title isn't much better (even if it does repeat the name of his Sirius satellite radio dance show) yet perhaps such directness is deliberate. After all, Jules (real name Julius O'Riordan) refreshingly cuts to the chase in the liner notes, stating that the disc is nothing more complicated than a breathless collection of the most crowd-friendly cuts he presented at more than 175 global shows.

The tunes themselves are a feverishly pumping lot, from the infectious tribal trance of the opener, Signalrunners' “3000 Miles Away,” to exuberant stormers like Paul Van Dyk's “The Other Side.” The vibe's euphoric and celebratory as Jules streams cascades of chugging synths over dizzying locomotive beats for an aerobic seventy-seven minutes. Strong vocal cuts like Marco V's “False Light” and Dogzilla's “Without You” bring contrast while a bright electro theme provides a potent hook in Marcel Woods' “Advanced.” A surprising martial episode inaugurates Blanco Diablo's “Absolute Control” but it's soon taken over, like pretty much everything else here, by a bright wave of surging pulsations. Jules himself drops two cuts, with “Keep Me Running” boosted by orchestral strings but marred by a histrionic vocal performance, and album closer “So Special,” an epic dynamo elevated by Marcella Woods' passionate singing. All things considered, the set's unflagging energy and jubilant progressive spirit makes it easy to overlook its occasional flirtation with New Age-styled blandness (Matt Darey's “Eternity”).

May 2006