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Maxxi Soundsystem – Criticize Review

Maxxi Soundsystem duo Sam Watts and Neal Lewis have been pottering around Brighton and London for the best part of 10 years, impressing all with their sparkling DJ sets and an impressive armoury of bespoke re-edits. Now, nearly a decade after first joining forces, they’ve finally made their vinyl debut.

If you’re going to take a decade to get round to making a record, you better make it a good one. Fortunately for Watts and Lewis, this two-tracker for Kojak Giant Sounds is pretty damn nifty. As debuts go, it’s a beauty. Regular Kojak Giant Sounds buyers will know what to expect: dancefloor-friendly productions that blur the boundaries between re-edit, remix and original production. The label tends not to release bog standard re-edits, and these edits/remixes/reworks – call them what you will – are anything but ordinary.

The real killer here is “Criticize”, a version of Alexander O’Neal’s 1987 cut of the same name that turns the smooth original inside out. Gone are the majority of O’Neal’s slick vocals and the past-their-prime Jam & Lewis synth grooves. Instead, we get a chugging, dubbed-out electrofunk groove that morphs into thrilling old skool house jam half way through. The sheer excitement and impact of that drop can’t be underestimated; it’s a bona fide killer. It turns what could have been a fairly standard cut into a genuine banger.

Flipside “His Hat Was His Home” doesn’t quite have the same impact, but it’s still pretty hot. Here, Bill Wolfer’s Roger Trouton style remake of “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” gets a Maxxi makeover. The duo put more emphasis on the sequenced bassline, add some dub effects and tighten up the beats in a version that’s judged to perfection.

Matt Anniss