RONI SIZE REPRAZENT
A few years ago, when drum 'n' bass still looked like it might be the next big thing, plenty of artists seemed intent on proving it was "real" music by turning out sprawling, indulgent albums, as though their sheer bulk would make a statement all by itself. Roni Size and his Bristol crew, Reprazent, might've looked like they were trying to do the same thing with their 1997 debut, New Forms--it's two CDs long--but its angular beauty, jazzy overtones, and neck-snapping rhythms actually warranted the extra room. Since then drum 'n' bass has lost the mainstream-crossover race to two-step garage, and appropriately, Size's 2000 follow-up, In the Mode (Talkin' Loud/Island), has a stripped-down focus and no-frills feel. (It also fits on a single disc.) After a couple disappointing side projects by members of Reprazent--Krust has recorded a solo album and Size and DJ Die worked with vocalist Leonie Laws as Breakbeat Era--Mode makes a convincing argument for good old-fashioned teamwork. The core group, rounded out by DJ Suv and vocalists Dynamite MC and Onallee, is joined by a trio of ringers: Method Man, who tweaks his potheaded flow to fit the party starter "Ghetto Celebrity"; human beat box Rahzel of the Roots; and Zack de la Rocha, who rages more effectively alongside these machines than he did against his own. A hard-core jungle fan of my acquaintance frets that the CD sells Size and company short with its radio-friendly mixes, which lack the seismic bass of the DJ dubplates circulating in the clubs. But I don't know how substantial a complaint that is if you don't have to move a warehouse full of people--and either way Reprazent's legendary stage show, with live drummers and bassists and every sample triggered in real time, should put a stop to that sort of hairsplitting. Friday, March 9, 11 PM, House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn; 312-923-2000 or 312-559-1212.