By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
By Liz Tracy
By Matt Preira
By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
After boring us with last year's djmixed.com, a largely uninspired remix trance-a-thon calculated to capitalize on the electronica subgenre of the moment, consummate club DJ turned producer Keoki delivers the more digestible Jealousy. The first clue to its quality comes from the album's cover art: While he appeared in a simple black muscle T-shirt and without makeup on mixed, he's all gussied up on the back jacket of the new disc, sporting a broad-brimmed pimp hat and copious cosmetics. This bodes well, because Keoki is best at his most flamboyant.
On his first album of original tracks, 1997's stellar Ego-Trip, Keoki opted for a stylish eclecticism. Having since dropped the "Superstar DJ" portion of his stage name, he nevertheless returns to his earlier formula for Jealousy, touching on trance but including jaunts through house, breakbeat, and pure techno. The title track opens the disc with atmospheric, oscillating synth drones as Keoki adopts a psychotic whisper to deliver the line: "Each night I lie awake for hours/And thoughts of you my heart devours/With jealousy." Scaaary. But the gothic feel of the intro gives way to a bouncing, bounding trance tune.
"Rush" is a breakbeat booty-mover built on a platform of subsonic bass blobs that alternately underpin new-wavish keys and an orchestral refrain that owes a debt to Depeche Mode. Keoki switches gears again for the industrial-flavored drum 'n' bass of "Realize," growling gritty vocals. Another standout, "Veronica," wafts in on an evocative, darkly moody ambient segment. The dreamy sequence is interrupted by squiggly staccato synths and the cut's lone intelligible lyric: "Veronica, interplanetary bitch." Trite techno sirens lift the tune to its next level, ramping up the volume and BPMs before percolating, pulsating bass bumps us the rest of the way home.
"Veronica" certainly comes with predictable moments, but it's still miles ahead of the throwaway dreck wedged between the good stuff: overblown, monotonous trance on "Smile" and "Pass It On" and the ironically cheesy "This Ain't No Disco," complete with cascading strings and diva vocals. Keoki leaves listeners on a high note, though, closing the disc with "Relax," a techno-rock reworking of the thinly veiled homoerotic anthem by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Keoki's high-intensity cover layers testosterone guitar heroics over sci-fi laser-beam synth runs. It's one of the shortest tracks, leaving itself open to the inevitable extended remix. Keoki obviously hasn't forgotten his marketing major.