Coldcut came to prominence a decade ago with "Say Kids, What Time Is It?," the first British record constructed exclusively from samples, and their role in introducing England to sample- and breakbeat-based music can't be underestimated--though they're understandably embarrassed by progeny like Prodigy. Jonathan More and Matt Black took a DIY approach to computer hardware as musical instrument that was crucial in the development and spread of the UK rave scene. They discovered singer Lisa Stansfield and shook up hip-hop with their genre-busting remix of Eric B and Rakim's "Paid in Full," and in many ways their mind-boggling sampledelia presaged the ascent of turntablists like DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist. Since 1993 their Ninja Tune label has disseminated like-minded work from DJ Food (with whom More and Black sometimes work), DJ Vadim, Funki Porcini, the Herbaliser, and Up, Bustle & Out. Let Us Play, the new Coldcut album on Ninja Tune, may be a mixed bag--anyone giving Jello Biafra a platform for his simplistic antiauthority rants, as they do on "Every Home a Prison," should be force-fed the Dead Kennedys for a month--but it has flashes of brilliance. The bombastic "Return to Margin" and New Agey "Music 4 No Musicians" may sound downright fusionlike in their sample-crammed dexterity, but "More Beats + Pieces" and "Pan Opticon" are prime examples of Coldcut's broad vision and scrappy creativity. The duo's first-ever Chicago performance promises a virtual clinic on breakbeat science, and the bill also features sets by DJ Food and Montreal scratch whiz Kid Koala. Friday, 10 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): uncredited photo.