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Junkie XL

Junkie XL, the man behind the most ubiquitous exhumation-cum-remix, Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation," returns to production land with a lengthy, two-disc set, which is separated into "3PM" and "3AM." The "PM" disc is obviously the attention-getter due to collaborations with everyone from Robert Smith to Depeche Mode front man Dave Gahan to soul messiah Solomon Burke. Yet, for all the star power fueling the recordings, it's a bit disappointing how the final product turns out.

Gahan's "Reload" sounds like a throwaway from Depeche Mode's Ultra period, while Chuck D's "Access to the Excess" gains a semblance of credibility before simply devolving into a B-side from the Spawn soundtrack. Smith receives a fair musical backdrop, where his mournful vocals soak easily onto the moody, stripped-down "Perfect Blue Sky." But the standout duo is XL and synth-pop icon Gary Numan on the brooding "Angels," which coincides perfectly with the steps Numan is taking with his own work, especially on his recent offering Mutate. "AM," with tracks like "Chilled," "Breezer," and "Cosmic Cure," is the ambient sidebar to "PM"'s game of pop culture Trivial Pursuit. If XL belied indulgence for once and combined the most solid tracks into one album, leaving the rest for download-hungry fans, this broadcast could be one worth tuning into. -- Kiran Aditham

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